The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced the appointment of Mary Starks to lead a review of The Pensions Regulator (TPR).
This is in line with the expectation that public bodies are reviewed each parliament. Pensions minister Laura Trott has asked Starks to aim to deliver the report in May 2023.
The review is aiming to identify efficiency savings of more than 5% where possible. The DWP failed to give anymore details on the scope of the review.
Stark’s previous experience includes serving as executive member of the board and director of competition and chief economist at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). She has also served as executive director of Ofgem.
Trott said: “All public bodies must ensure that they are accountable and working for taxpayers. Mary Starks has a background working in the regulatory sector and with public bodies, which will help her to deliver effective recommendations.”
Stark added: “I am delighted to be appointed to lead this review. The Pensions Regulator plays a vital role protecting the interests of savers and ensuring employees benefit from workplace pensions. As well as drawing on my own regulatory experience, I look forward to hearing from stakeholders from across the pensions sector and working closely with the teams at DWP and TPR.”
Working with the FCA
Andrew Tully, technical director at Canada Life, told International Adviser: “It is very important that the TPR works very closely with the FCA, especially when the same legislation or regulation is being rolled out from both to their respective audiences. It’s crucial there is a consistent approach so people have a similar experience whether they access a pension as a consumer or through the workplace.”
Rachel Vahey, AJ Bell head of policy development, added: “The Pensions Regulator has an important task in making sure workplace pension schemes are operating in the best way possible for pension scheme members; protecting their savings and helping them to achieve a better financial later life. TPR has to oversee both defined benefit and defined contribution plans.
“It has to make sure it works closely with its sister regulator the FCA. There are many instances where the two cross paths, and it is up to both bodies to work closely together to design a robust and consistent regulatory framework, which works well on both sides of the regulatory fence. However, there have been instances where it has not always been the case – for example when designing a framework for stronger nudges to guidance, where we have different requirements for personal and workplace pensions.
“This has never been as important. Over the next year or so, the two regulators need to work together to develop a value of money framework for all pension plans, and roll out the implementation of pensions dashboards. And all against the background of a cost-of-living crisis.”
Kate Smith, head of pensions at Aegon, added: “Workplace pensions are regulated by both the Pensions Regulator and the FCA, which brings challenges, but also opportunities for the two regulators. Increasingly we’re seeing the Pensions Regulator and FCA working together on policy and regulatory initiatives which we welcome.
“But we’re still seeing differences in how and when the two regulators consult on and implement policy, with initiatives implemented slightly differently and at different times. From a customer perspective it makes little sense that the regulations differ, as they have no need to understand the difference between saving in a personal pension or a master trust. We would welcome the review to look into how the Pensions Regulator and FCA can be better aligned.”