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Latest master trust to gain independent assurance welcomed

Ref: PN15-01
Wednesday 14 January 2015

The Pensions Regulator today welcomed news of the latest occupational defined contribution (DC) master trust, NOW: Pensions, to obtain independent assurance.

The voluntary assurance framework, published in May last year, was developed by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW) in association with the regulator to support auditors to provide independent assurance reports for the trustees of master trusts.

The framework has been designed to evidence the key quality features set out in the regulator’s code of practice for DC schemes.

Andrew Warwick-Thompson, The Pensions Regulator's executive director for DC and public service pension schemes, said:

"I am pleased that another master trust has adopted this important accreditation which allows such schemes to demonstrate high standards of governance and administration to employers preparing for their new automatic enrolment pension duties.

"Master trust assurance will give employers the confidence to choose a DC master trust scheme that can evidence the presence of the key quality features which the regulator believes underpin good member outcomes. It will also help to guard against providers without the necessary resource and competence to operate a high quality scheme.

“I call on other master trust schemes to follow the lead of those which have committed to the voluntary assurance framework.”

The Pensions Regulator launched a consultation at the end of 2014 over plans to publish a list of multi-employer DC pension schemes to help small and micro employers prepare for automatic enrolment. The consultation is now closed and the regulator is considering how to respond to the feedback received. It intends to publish a response in February.

ICAEW has published guidance (PDF, 538kb, 36 pages) on applying the assurance framework to occupational DC master trusts.

Editor's notes

  1. The framework sets out how trustees should report against a series of 'control objectives' related to governance and administration, which are aligned with the regulator's DC quality features, and which procedures practitioners must undertake. The Pensions Regulator proposes to make available a list of master trusts that have obtained independent assurance, to which employers and advisers who are looking for information on master trusts can refer when selecting a scheme for automatic enrolment.
  2. The Pensions Regulator is the regulator of work-based pension schemes in the UK. We have objectives to: protect members’ benefits; reduce the risk of calls on the Pension Protection Fund (PPF); to promote, and to improve understanding of the good administration of work-based pension schemes; to maximise employer compliance with automatic enrolment duties; and to minimise any adverse impact on the sustainable growth of an employer (in relation to the exercise of the regulator’s functions under Part 3 of the Pensions Act 2004 only).
  3. ICAEW is a world leading professional membership organisation that promotes, develops and supports over 142,000 chartered accountants worldwide. ICAEW provides qualifications and professional development, shares knowledge, insight and technical expertise, and protects the quality and integrity of the accountancy and finance profession.

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