The Lighthouse Pensions Trust has recorded an 84% surge in the number of employers signed up to its auto-enrolment (AE) provision.
The master trust, which focuses on small and medium entities (SMEs), revealed the number of employers staged with the provider had risen by 193 to 355 over 2017. Meanwhile, another 22 schemes are said to have had signed up by 31 December to be staged at future dates this year.
The provider, which is run by the Lighthouse Group, noted it had seen a "steady" stream of new clients, growing considerably "albeit from a low base", and it hoped this growth would continue once AE staging ends via a process of consolidation.
Publishing its final results for 2017, the firm said: "As the first wave of employers having to establish AE compliant workplace pension schemes draws to a close (by mid-2018), we expect opportunities from consolidation of sub-scale operators to emerge. The group will continue to monitor the Lighthouse Pensions Trust operation and associated opportunities during 2018."
It is estimated there are around 80 defined contribution master trusts. Consolidation is expected over the next couple of years as a new authorisation and supervision regime comes into force. The regulation, which will be conducted by The Pensions Regulator and is expected to take effect in October, will require master trusts to meet several criteria to be approved, with some expected to wind up.
Lighthouse Pensions Trust's boost in employer base has also led to an increase in overall members, which the company said was despite a backdrop of "continuing reluctance of SME owners to pay for assistance in establishing pension arrangements imposed on them by government when lower-cost, unadvised offerings are available from other sources."
Overall, the Lighthouse Group has 4,722 active members - including individual policyholders in its Corporate Pensions Trust - up 43% from the end of 2016.
The new business comes after the master trust last August appointed The Pensions Advisory Service chief executive Michelle Cracknell as a non-executive director.
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