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Pensions Regulator consults on independent trustee register review

Ref: PN09-21
Friday 11 December 2009

The Pensions Regulator is reviewing how it assesses the conditions for joining and remaining on its register of independent trustees and has today published a consultation document on the proposed new criteria.

The regulator is required by law to compile and maintain a register of independent trustees that satisfy certain conditions and this register is used by the regulator to appoint independent trustees to schemes. These appointments are usually made to ensure that the scheme is properly administered and the members' benefits protected when the employer is insolvent.

After four years of operating the register, the regulator is proposing a number of changes to the criteria it uses to assess whether applicants have sufficient relevant experience, sound administrative and accounting procedures, and adequate indemnity insurance cover. Whilst technical in nature, the proposed changes are designed to improve standards across the trustees on the register.

Executive director of strategic development Bill Galvin said:

“While some of the assessment criteria for the register of independent trustees remain unchanged, there are areas where they are being strengthened.

”We believe that the proposed changes are justified in respect of having additional safeguards in place to ensure that members' benefits are protected in the long term.”

The consultation document can be viewed on the regulator's website. Responses to the 12 week consultation should be submitted by 12 March 2010.

Editor's notes

  1. The Pensions Regulator is required by statute to compile and maintain a register of trustees who fulfill certain legislative conditions. The regulator meets this requirement through the creation and maintenance of its Trustee Register.
  2. Independent trustees are not required to be on the Trustee Register, it is a voluntary decision. Being on the register does not guarantee appointments; before making any appointment the regulator considers the unique circumstances and needs of the scheme before selecting the appropriate trustee candidates for appointment.
  3. The Pensions Regulator is the regulator of work-based pension schemes in the UK, with objectives to protect members' benefits, promote good administration and reduce the risk of calls on the Pension Protection Fund. Our approach is risk-based focusing on education and enablement, with enforcement where appropriate. We have the ability to:
    • collect information about pension schemes; through scheme returns, under the scheme funding regime and as well as statutory (including whistleblowing) reports;
    • issue notices requiring actions to tackle non-compliance, prohibit trustees who are judged not fit and proper to carry out their duties or appoint independent trustees;
    • direct pension schemes as to how to calculate their liabilities and the contributions required;
    • issue a contribution notice where there is an attempt to avoid liabilities, or a financial support direction where the employer is a service company or insufficiently resourced.

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