Alan Rubenstein is to step down as chief executive of the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) after nearly nine years in the role.
Rubenstein, who was appointed chief executive in 2009, will leave the lifeboat fund early next year, the PPF confirmed.
The former Lehman Brothers investment banker, who also managed the firm's pensions advisory group, has helped steer the PPF through particularly turbulent times following the financial crisis and last year's Brexit vote.
The PPF was thrown into the spotlight after the collapse of BHS last year, with the government and the work and pensions committee both scrutinising the lifeboat fund.
During his tenure, the PPF's invested assets have grown from £2.9bn to more than £30bn - with its funding level hitting 121.6% on a PPF valuation basis this year, while reserves grew from £4.1bn to £6.1bn over the last financial year. It estimates it has a 93% probability of reaching self-sufficiency by 2030.
Speaking to PP, Rubenstein said he would likely take up some non-executive roles, or a full-time role if "something interesting comes up".
"I've been here for just over eight years, and it will be nearly nine by the time I step down," he said. "It's been hugely enjoyable and also I think very successful too. But I've decided that I would now like, having spent that long, to find a new challenge.
"What I'm going to do next is as yet unclear; it will depend on what's out there. I think that you need to do something that's a little bit scary, so I imagine I shall be looking for something like that - but not bungee-jumping."
He added he was most proud of how the image of the PPF has been turned around over the last decade.
"What I'm probably most pleased about is that when I joined the organisation, I could hardly go a week without picking up a newspaper or magazine where someone was predicting the PPF's demise," he continued. "Nearly nine years on, we are at a stage where people accept the PPF is here, we are part of the national pensions fabric, and most people would say we do what we do well. I'm very proud of that."
Rubenstein's departure comes after he was appointed a non-executive director of insurance business Esure in March this year, and it is expected he will now seek similar opportunities.
The PPF told PP it would launch a competitive tender process for a search firm to find a new chief executive within the next few weeks, with it making a decision by the end of the year. The Department for Work and Pensions will have to approve the recommendation.
PPF chairman Arnold Wagner added: "We will look to get the best person to do the job and we will hope to be able to pay them what we need to pay them."
Wagner also thanked Rubenstein for strengthening the lifeboat fund's position.
"The board is extremely grateful to Alan for his excellent leadership of the PPF over the last eight years and wish him every success in the next phase of his career," he said. "As a result of his achievements as chief executive, the PPF is in a strong position, well placed to continue to protect the millions of people in the UK who belong to defined benefit pension schemes. Our task now is to locate a successor to pilot the PPF through its next phase of development."
Rubenstein entered the industry in 1984, when he qualified as an actuary with Scottish Widows, before joining the asset management and investment banking sector with Morgan Stanley and Lehman Brothers.
He has also served on the boards of Robeco Group, the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, and the National Association of Pension Funds, now the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association. He has also been a member of the Takeover Panel.
Alongside his current role at Esure, he is also an investment adviser to the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme.
‘Tough act to follow'
Rubenstein's tenure was praised by the industry, with many commending his delivery of a stronger PPF over the past eight years.
Former pensions minister and now Royal London director of policy Sir Steve Webb said thousands of pension scheme members would be thankful for Rubenstein's commitment.
"Alan Rubenstein is a giant of the pensions world and will be an exceptionally tough act to follow as head of the PPF," he said. "He has overseen a period of rapid growth for the PPF and has helped to ensure that the organisation is on a firm financial footing going forward.
"Many hundreds of thousands of current PPF members and many millions of potential PPF members owe him a debt of gratitude. I have no doubt that Alan could have earned far more in a private sector post than the government is prepared to pay someone to run a public body of this sort, and it is to his great credit that he gave his all to the PPF for a sustained period and leaves it in such a strong position."
Society of Pension Professionals president and Spencer and Partners director Hugh Nolan added the PPF's current position was "remarkable".
"There will be some big shoes to fill at the PPF when Alan Rubenstein steps down next year," he said. "Alan has embedded the PPF as the foundation of the UK pensions system during his time in charge ensuring hundreds of thousands of employees have had their retirement savings protected after their employer has failed. Under Alan's stewardship, the PPF has generated a healthy funding position and remains on track to reach self-sufficiency status by 2030, which is a remarkable achievement."
The government has confirmed the current interim chairwoman of The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO), Caroline Rookes, will continue the role in a permanent capacity.
The Pensions Management Institute (PMI) has appointed three non-executive directors and an executive director to its board.
Former Financial Regulators Complaints Commissioner Antony Townsend is to become chair of an expanded Determinations Panel at The Pensions Regulator (TPR).
Six members of Ross Trustees’ pension trustee and support teams have been promoted into new roles.