The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has seconded staff from other national watchdogs as it rolls out the master trust authorisation and supervision regime, Lesley Titcomb has revealed.
The regulator's chief executive said experienced staff from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) were drafted in to draw upon their expertise in handling authorisation regimes.
The regime kicked into force on 1 October, giving master trusts six months to apply for authorisation or to exit the market. So far, at least 30 schemes have confirmed they will not seek permission to continue operating post-April 2019.
Speaking at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) conference in Liverpool on 18 October, Titcomb said the authorisation regime reflects the fact that TPR had "fought for" such a framework for "many years".
She added: "We are now starting the authorisation process and that will be followed by an ongoing supervision regime. Doing authorisation for the first time, we have been able to draw upon the FCA and PRA; both of them we have seconded staff from."
Titcomb was also pressed by a member-nominated trustee in the audience, who said increased regulation and governance standards meant "it is now tougher to be a trustee than to join the Masons".
"We are absolutely there to support you and to stand behind you if you are in funding negotiations with an employer," replied Titcomb. "We are engaging in [valuation] discussions earlier in the process than we would have previously done. We are emphasising more where we might disagree with the trustees' stance and where we think they should be tougher with the employer."
But she added that, often, too much focus is given to TPR's enforcement action over its efforts to be clearer and quicker.
"What we as the regulator have to do is worry less about the enforcement side of things, because the fact is most schemes are not in a position where enforcement is needed," she continued. "[We have] to work closer with trustees and find the most effective ways of intervening as a regulator to support trustees."
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