Reading through TPR's priorities for 2016 shows a tough time ahead for trustees finds Helen Morrissey.
First of all I would like to wish you all a happy New Year. As you read this you find me shuffling and grumbling my way through Dry January. While navigating a booze, cake and caffeine-free January may seem demanding (to me at least!) it pales into insignificance in comparison with the challenges we will see in the pensions industry this year.
A read through of the priorities for The Pensions Regulator (TPR) this year (see page 14) shows there is plenty going on. First of all we have smaller employers going through auto-enrolment (AE). Between January and March we expect nearly 100,000 employers to go through AE. While the vast majority will manage this it will be interesting to see how providers cope with this sudden influx and how often the regulator will have to bare its teeth at those employers who lag behind.
The new defined contribution code will also bring great change. Currently in consultation phase, the code promises a bold new approach. According to the regulator's chief executive Lesley Titcomb, not only is the revised code "shorter and clearer, leaving no room for uncertainty, it also sets out all the standards of conduct and practice we expect of trustees in one place". This can only be good news.
I expect the process to be challenging and at times difficult, but ultimately worthwhile.
However, I think the biggest challenge trustees will face will be TPR's work on what a 21st century trustee should look like. Research published last year by the watchdog showed worrying gaps in trustee knowledge and understanding, particularly at the small scheme level.
Over the coming months we can expect a more targeted approach from TPR when it comes to training, increased sharing of good practice and more debate as to what it means to be a trustee. A bit like my Dry January, I expect the process to be challenging and at times difficult, but ultimately worthwhile.
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