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Key points

  • The master trust assurance framework was developed by the ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) in partnership with us, and is designed to help trustees assess whether their scheme meets equivalent standards of governance and administration to those set out in the DC code.
  • Obtaining master trust assurance enables you to demonstrate that your scheme has been subject to an independent review of the description, design and effective operation of its governance and administration practices against a defined set of control objectives.
  • The master trust assurance framework also helps employers to find a pension scheme that has been independently reviewed to use to comply with their automatic enrolment duties.

Who this applies to

This guidance applies to relevant multi-employer occupational pension schemes – commonly known as 'master trusts'.

We define a master trust as an occupational trust-based pension scheme established by declaration of trust which is or has been promoted to provide benefits to members who are staff of participating employers which need not be connected.

What is master trust assurance?

The master trust assurance framework provides an independent review of schemes against a defined set of criteria agreed by The Pensions Regulator. The framework sets out how trustees should report against a series of 'control objectives' related to governance and administration of the master trust, which are aligned with the standards set out in our DC code.

The framework also sets out the procedures that independent reporting accountants should carry out.

How to obtain master trust assurance for your scheme

Your master trust should have control procedures in place to ensure that governance and administration arrangements work properly.

To obtain master trust assurance, you need to commission an independent reporting accountant to assess the design and operating effectiveness of the control procedures you have in place. The accountant will produce a report that explains whether your procedures meet the control objectives set out in the master trust supplement to AAF 02/07, produced by the ICAEW in partnership with us.

In the unlikely event that certain control objectives don’t apply to your master trust, you should ensure that their omission is explained in the report. It’s the trustees’ responsibility to ensure that sufficient control objectives are met to satisfy our DC code. We expect master trusts which obtain assurance to publish their reports on an annual basis.

There are two types of report. Type 1 checks the design of the scheme’s control procedures. Type 2 checks the operating effectiveness of those procedures over the reporting year. Trustees are likely to obtain a type 1 report in the first year. We expect you to obtain type 2 reports in every subsequent year.

For more information on master trust assurance, read the ICAEW master trust supplement to AAF 02/07 (PDF, 3.3MB, 22 pages).

Schemes that have obtained master trust assurance

The following schemes have been independently reviewed against the master trust assurance framework:

We expect master trusts to obtain independent assurance and we strongly support those providers who work towards achieving and maintaining it.

Please note that there are certain conditions if you want to join or leave the master trust list.

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