The Pensions Regulator (TPR) may need additional resources as it takes on new powers around master trusts, and merger and acquisitions (M&A), Lesley Titcomb has said.
Speaking to PP, the watchdog's chief executive said as TPR takes on extra responsibilities, it may be appropriate to have additional resources to support this as it would have to "take that resource away from something else."
It comes as the regulator will be given powers to regulate master trusts under the new Pension Schemes Bill, which is going through the House of Lords. After the watchdog has long warned about the low barriers to entry for master trusts, it will now have the power to authorise and de-authorise them for the first time.
Meanwhile, it wants more authority to veto M&As in certain circumstances as part of the Work and Pensions Committee's inquiry into defined benefit (DB) regulation, as well as more information gathering powers.
While Titcomb acknowledged the regulator may need more resources, she pointed out TPR already has 500 "great staff of wide-ranging capabilities, skills, and experience".
Also, it needs to be mindful of the potential consequences from increasing resources:
"We also have to be conscious of the fact that our costs fall on the schemes we regulate and the sponsoring employer, so we don't want to ask irresponsibly for large amounts of extra resource. We also have to challenge ourselves to use the resource we have as effectively as possible."
The regulator has been specific about the power it would like from learnings over British Home Stores (BHS). It wants to require people to come to TPR in certain limited circumstances before they do corporate transactions.
Titcomb said: "We also have experience of operating for 10 years since TPR came into existence. Some of the other powers that would be good to explore, such as information gathering powers, come out of our wider experience of operating that regime for 10 years and would apply across many areas, not just DB but defined contribution as well."
She added: "The request for the new power is because if trustees aren't told, they're not in a position to tell us, and there's no requirement on employers to tell us at the moment. If it's not a listed company, then there's no market transparency discipline. We think in certain, very limited circumstances it may be appropriate to require people to come to us first."
It comes as some industry participants have said the regulator already has enough ammunition and does not need additional powers to do its job.
In this week's Pensions Buzz, more than half of respondents said the regulator should have more powers and/or resources, while just 31% said there should be no change.
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