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Pensions: what's new this week - 30 May 2023

Welcome to your weekly update from the Allen & Overy Pensions team, covering all the latest legal and regulatory developments in the world of workplace pensions.

This week we cover topics including: TPR priorities: value for money, trusteeship, and at-retirement solutions; PLSA investment companies guide; and ICO subject access request guidance.

TPR priorities: value for money, trusteeship, and at-retirement solutions

Nausicaa Delfas, the newly appointed CEO of The Pensions Regulator (TPR), has given a speech outlining her main priorities. Value for money in DC schemes was a key focus, with reference to TPR’s consultation on a new value for money framework (read more), the response to which will be published in the summer, and the need for “fundamental shifts in thinking and delivery”. Ahead of the implementation of the new framework, TPR is conducting a value for members regulatory initiative looking at schemes with assets under management of less than GBP100 million. On the related topic of consolidation, Ms Delfas stated “where we find poor performance, the message is clear: wind up and put your members into a better run scheme. Or we will consider all powers at our disposal.”

In relation to governance and trusteeship, the speech included a statement that TPR believes that every trustee body should include someone who meets professional standards (this goes further than TPR’s recent corporate plan, which said that TPR was considering this). It does however acknowledge the “huge amount of value that lay trustees deliver” — TPR wants to “retain and capture all of that, while making sure they are supported as they need to be as the role of being a trustee becomes ever more complex”. To understand the current trustee landscape TPR will be looking at new ways to identify trustees, for example through a registration system. The speech also highlighted the pressing need to address equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) and environmental social and governance (ESG) issues.

Another area of focus was ‘at retirement’ solutions (decumulation). TPR is currently working with the DWP to scope a set of reforms intended to “support savers in making good decisions and securing the best retirement for their personal circumstances”. The aim is that schemes will either offer, facilitate or signpost high quality decumulation products and services. We expect to see a consultation on proposed reforms this summer.

Read more.

PLSA investment companies guide

The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) has published a guide for trustees on investment companies (also known as investment trusts). The guide explains what investment companies are, including how they approach diversification, liquidity, gearing and governance, and draws comparisons with ‘open ended’ funds commonly used by pension schemes. It also includes a Q&A section and a checklist of issues trustees may want to consider when thinking about whether to use investment companies.

Read the guide.

ICO subject access request guidance

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published new guidance on subject access requests (SARs). A SAR enables someone to request their personal data from an organisation. The guidance sets out a number of Q&As, for example ‘do people have to submit a request in a certain format?’ and ‘when can we withhold information?’. It is aimed at employers but is also relevant to pension schemes.

Read the new guidance.