Schemes with poor record keeping should be handed harsher punishments, say the majority of this week’s 83 Pensions Buzz respondents.
They also answered questions on whether bulk annuity providers are overlooking smaller schemes to focus on ‘mega deals', and whether the pensions dashboard will make noticeable difference to engagement.
Almost two in three (62%) of this week's 83 respondents agreed that schemes with poor record keeping should be handed harsher punishments, while 19% argued otherwise.
Of the former group, many suggested fines should only be handed down after persistent offences or if schemes have failed to improve things after a warning.
"If they are still not keeping adequate records, yes. But not for omissions and errors in legacy data, especially if they have made reasonable attempts to address the situation," one said.
"Poor record keeping wastes everyone's time in many ways and reduces members' confidence," added another.
A further person said there is "no excuse" for poor record keeping but suggested "historical records may need some research".
Of those who disagreed, a large number said rather than a harsher punishment, the schemes with poor record keeping should be offered "help".
One said: "Constructive engagement will benefit members, providers and trustees," while another said training and feedback should be provided for improvement.
A further person urged: "Don't beat them with a stick unless they refuse to improve."
TPR is not right to fine trustee chairs for trivial or perceived omissions in DC chairs' statements, two thirds (66%) of respondents said.
One who disagreed with the statement said it is "absolutely the wrong thing to do", while another questioned how such fines will improve member outcomes.
Another commentator suggested: "If there wasn't such excessively detailed, and constantly changing, pressure on schemes then they would have a chance to keep up."
One of those among the 24% that did agree with the regulator said: "TPR has no choice in the matter. It has to levy the fine."
Another caveated their response, stating: "It will depend on how material the omission is. The failure to produce a chairs' statement is a clear fine… But TPR cannot presume that everybody understands the subtle nuances that they intended. There shouldn't be any fine for the first year and TPR should explain exactly what they would expect."
"It is a legal requirement to meet specific points. TPR is right to ensure that the requirement is taken seriously," said a different person.
Respondents were relatively split in their views on whether the DWP is doing enough to ensure schemes take ESG and climate related risks into consideration, with 47% agreeing, 16% disagreeing and the remaining 19% of people unsure.
Of those who said the government department is currently doing enough, one noted: "ESG and climate change are important, but a pension scheme's main priority is to optimise returns at an appropriate level of risk."
They continued: "While it is right that trustees should be encouraged to consider this type of investment, they should not be pressurised into investing this way if they don't think it is the right thing to do for their scheme."
A different person argued: "It isn't the responsibility of pension schemes to ‘save the planet'. They exist to ensure a good level of income in retirement for their members."
One of those who disagreed said: "Probably not but given that the government generally keeps kicking this down the road it is hardly surprising."
Of those unsure on the subject, one said: "I don't see this as the DWP's responsibility."
The largest number of respondents (53%) argued bulk annuity providers are overlooking smaller scheme transactions to focus on ‘mega deals'.
One pundit in this group suggested: "They are not doing business out of the goodness of their hearts. They are in it to make money and there is much more money to be made for them in bigger deals."
A further respondent said: "Schemes large and small benefit from de-risking. Providers should have the experience and processes to make smaller transactions straightforward."
Of the 13% who disagreed, one said: "Put simply, for small schemes this may not be an appropriate destination in terms of value for money."
One third (34%) were unsure, with one commentator suggesting it "makes sense for them to focus on larger transactions given the comparable amount of work involved but I get the sense the smaller ones are getting away too", while another added: "The deals are going on but everybody focusses on the big number deals. You're not going to hear that a bulk annuity provider did a £1m deal with the Joe Bloggs Pension Scheme."
Respondents were not in agreement over whether the pensions dashboard will make noticeable differences to saver engagement.
Those who agreed amounted to 44%, while 31% took the opposite view.
Of the former, one said: "It has the potential to become a powerful tool for focusing members' attention," with another noting: "People are simply more engaged with online services."
A number of others were in agreement that a lot of work is required but the ability to see all pension pots in one place will ensure members are engaged.
One of those who did not agree suggested the dashboard will "almost certainly be rubbish, because the plan is to impose extra costs on employers and schemes when they're already stretched, so the budgets will be minimal and the data useless in practice".
"It will make a little difference but I can't see it being fundamental," added another.
The majority of the 25% of respondents who were unsure said it was too early to tell whether the dashboard will noticeably boost engagement.
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