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The Board

The Board of The Pensions Regulator meets around eight times a year and is made up of the Chair, non-executive members, the Chief Executive and executive directors.

All Board members are appointed by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions following open competition.

Their key responsibilities are:

  • overseeing TPR's strategic direction and making key decisions on policy
  • ensuring TPR is properly run as a public body and has effective internal controls
  • ensuring that statutory and administrative requirements for the use of public funds are complied with

Sarah Smart - Non-Executive Chair

Sarah Smart


Sarah was appointed Chair of The Pensions Regulator in June 2021.

Sarah is an experienced Non-Executive Director and Independent Trustee. She is a qualified Chartered Accountant and has held a portfolio of non-executive and advisory positions. She was a member of the Board, Senior Independent Director and Chair of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee of TPR from 2016 to 2021.

Sarah has spent over 20 years in the pensions industry in a variety of different roles. She was Chair of TPT Retirement Solutions from 2010 to 2018, has worked with both London Pensions Fund Authority and Lothian Pension Fund, was an independent member of the Investment and Funding Committee for Unilever UK Pension Fund and chaired the Financial Times Pensions Governance Committee. Outside of pensions Sarah has been closely involved in social investment, sitting on the boards of both Social Investment Scotland and Big Society Capital, where she was also Chair of the Audit Committee. She also chaired the Audit Committee of UK Athletics.

Prior to moving to a portfolio career, Sarah worked in the investment management industry. She spent nine years with Standard Life Investments and was latterly responsible for developing and managing liability-driven and absolute return investment solutions for institutional investors. Sarah is highly respected within the pensions industry and has won many accolades for her innovative approach to pensions.


The chair has strategic leadership responsibility for TPR.

The role includes:

  • chairing TPR’s board, keeping under review the strategic direction of TPR, and leading TPR in the fulfillment of its statutory objectives and functions:
    • to protect the benefits under occupational and personal pension schemes of, or in respect of, members of such schemes
    • to reduce the risk of situations arising from which may lead to compensation being payable from the Pension Protection Fund
    • to promote and improve understanding of, the good administration of work-based pensions schemes
  • chairing the committee of non-executive members, to discharge the non-executive functions of TPR, including that the internal financial controls secure the proper conduct of its financial affairs
  • working with TPR's chief executive in ensuring that TPR’s internal operations are conducted effectively and with maximum efficiency toward achieving its objectives and functions
  • communicating on behalf of TPR with key stakeholders, and ensuring stewardship mechanisms are in place and operating effectively

Charles Counsell - Chief Executive

Charles Counsell


Charles Counsell was appointed Chief Executive of The Pensions Regulator (TPR) on 1 April 2019.

Prior to this Charles was Chief Executive at the Money Advice Service (now part of Money and Pensions Service) for nearly two years.

Charles spent six years before this as Executive Director for Automatic Enrolment at TPR where he was responsible for the successful roll-out of this programme across the UK, working alongside the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). In his time at TPR, the automatic enrolment programme led to over 7.5 million workers newly saving into a workplace pension from over 500,000 employers.

Charles was awarded an OBE in 2017 for services to workplace pension reform.

He has spent much of his career setting up and leading major change programmes in both the private and public sector in the UK and overseas.

Charles is also a Trustee of South Somerset Citizens Advice.


The chief executive has responsibility for securing that the legislative objectives and functions of TPR are exercised efficiently and effectively.

The role includes:

  • protecting the benefits under occupational and personal pension schemes of, or in respect of, members of such scheme
  • reducing the risk of situations arising from which may lead to compensation being payable from the Pension Protection Fund
  • promoting and improving understanding of, the good administration of work-based pensions schemes
  • being an executive member of TPR's Board, contributing to and reviewing the strategic direction of TPR
  • operational leadership of TPR, with its workforce of around 600 and annual budget of around £80 million, including leadership of our executive management team and corporate secretariat, stewardship arrangements with government, and working with key stakeholders
  • preparing our annual report and accounts for submission to the Secretary of State
  • responsibility for ensuring that operational costs represent value for money and that our business is delivered in a cost effective manner, as accounting officer

Kirstin Baker - Non-Executive Director



Kirstin Baker has over twenty years' experience in economic and finance roles in the civil service and was most recently Finance Director at HM Treasury. She previously worked as a senior policy official in the Treasury, heading the team responsible for co-ordinating public spending and managing many of the Treasury’s interventions in individual banks in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Kirstin’s earlier career was in EU policy and she worked as a competition official in the European Commission. She has also worked for the Scottish Government, leading policy on infrastructure investment.

Kirstin is a Non-Executive Director and Inquiry Chair at the Competition and Markets Authority. She is also a Non-Executive Director at University Hospitals Sussex, an independent member of Council at Sussex University and a member of the audit committee of Clarion Housing Group.

Kirstin was awarded a CBE in 2011 for her work during the financial crisis.

Robert Herga - Non-Executive Director



Robert is a solicitor with more than 30 years' experience of working in major corporations. Robert is currently General Counsel and Company Secretary at Gatwick Airport Limited having previously held that position at BAA plc and Carpetright plc. Prior to that he had undertaken legal roles within British Steel and BT. Robert is the Chairman of Trustees for the defined benefit pension scheme of Gatwick Airport Limited.

Katie Kapernaros - Non-Executive Director

Katie Kapernaros is an experienced executive in the IT Industry, spending most of her career at IBM, managing large operational teams and budgets. She has lived and worked in Australia, Singapore and the UK, and has managed teams across the world. One of her notable projects was working on the Sydney Olympics.

She now has a portfolio of non-executive roles in the public sector, covering digital, property and health organisations. She has done a lot of voluntary work in the charity and sports arenas, and is a Fellow of the British Computer Society, where she also volunteers on some of their committees.

David Martin - Non-Executive Director



David Martin has over 45 years' experience in the pensions industry, including 30 years of giving direct advice to trustees of occupational pension schemes. He is an actuary and was a partner at Mercer Ltd and its predecessor companies (1980 to 2012).

David has for many years been involved at a senior level with the Actuarial Profession both nationally and internationally.

Chris Morson - Non-Executive Director


Chris Morson joined the board of The Pension Regulator in April 2020.

He has previously been a Non-Executive Director and Audit Committee member at DVLA from 2013-2020, and at HM Land Registry from 2018-2020 where he has been interim chair of the Audit Committee and a member of Remuneration Committee.

Chris was previously a Non-Executive Director at the Money Advice Service (now part of Money and Pensions Service), as well as Audit and Risk Committee and Nominations Committee member. He is currently a Non-Executive Director at Royal London Asset Management.

He has spent much of his executive career in financial services. Most recently, he has specialised in digital transformation at scale, as Managing Director of the digital business of RBS / NatWest, and then at Virgin Money. Prior to this, he held senior roles as a Strategy Director, Managing Director of a European consumer finance business and as an Operations Director.

Earlier in his career, Chris worked as a management consultant with Price Waterhouse.

Chris has a BSc in Banking and Finance from Loughborough University and attended the London Business School finance programme. He holds an MBA with distinction from Cranfield and has also completed the Financial Times Non-Executive Directors diploma.

Helen Aston - Executive Director



Helen qualified as a chartered accountant in 2001, became a fellow of the ICAEW in 2012 and a member of CIPFA in 2015. Helen was appointed to TPR’s Board as Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Services on 1 December 2015 and is a member of our Executive Committee. She has responsibility for finance, corporate planning and reporting, commercial, facilities, IT, change services and information security. She is a regular attendee of our Audit and Risk Assurance Committee and chairs the Operations and Portfolio Oversight Board which is a sub-committee of Exco. She is also the executive sponsor of our Women’s Network.

She additionally holds two non executive roles. In March 2019 she was appointed as an Independent Person to the Audit and Standards Committee at Brighton and Hove City Council and in June 2019 she was appointed as a non executive member of the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee of the Valuation Office Agency.

Prior to her Executive Director appointment, Helen worked for PwC for 15 years and held others roles within TPR. Whilst at PwC she worked with private equity houses, public and private companies providing financial due diligence and FTSE / AIM listing work. During the early part of the 2008/09 financial crisis, Helen also worked with a number of banking and corporate clients on corporate restructures and insolvencies. Helen then decided to focus on pensions covenant work with PwC. She provided covenant advice for scheme funding, corporate transactions and corporate restructures and insolvencies to trustees of pension schemes and corporate clients, including a number of FTSE 100 companies. It was during that time, in 2011, she completed a secondment to TPR providing covenant and financial advice to the Frontline Regulation team. In 2013 Helen joined TPR permanently as a covenant adviser, later becoming Interim Finance Director before her Executive Director appointment.

David Fairs - Executive Director



David was appointed Executive Director of Regulatory Policy, Analysis and Advice on 2 July 2018, having previously been a senior partner in KPMG’s Pension Practice. He is responsible for the development of policy for TPR and has oversight of TPR’s professional advisers including lawyers, actuaries, investment advisers and business analysts.

He is co-chair of TPR’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Gateway Committee and a member of the cross Government Portfolio Committee overseeing the introduction of the Pensions Dashboard, He is the responsible Executive for climate change and environmental, social and governance (ESG) within TPR and a member of HM Treasury’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) Senior Steering Board, a member of the Stakeholder Stewardship Working Group, a member of the Working Group on Productive Finance and member of the Climate Financial Risk Forum. He is a member of the Joint Forum for Actuarial Regulation and chairs the Pensions Working Group.

David is a former Chairman of the Association of Consulting Actuaries and Director of the Association of Consulting Actuaries Limited, a former Council member of the International Actuarial Association, and inaugural Chairman of the Joint Industry Forum for Workplace Pensions. He was also a Council member of the Society of Pension Consultants and former Chairman of the Actuaries Club.

David is also Chair of the Genomics Development Board for Sarcoma UK and an advisory Board member of the Association for Business Psychologists and the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Essex University. He is a Governor of the Pensions Policy Institute.

Nicola Parish - Executive Director



Nicola was appointed to TPR’s Board as Executive Director of Frontline Regulation on 1 August 2016 having previously held a number of roles at TPR.

Nicola is now responsible for overseeing all of our frontline activities from intelligence gathering and analysis, activities by our Customer Support team and our supervision and enforcement teams. This covers the breadth of our work from the more straightforward compliance breaches through to complex enforcement case work. Whilst at TPR Nicola has been Director of Case Management and Director of Legal Services and Enterprise Risk Management.

She joined TPR as a litigation lawyer in 2008 having previously managed investigations in the Enforcement Division of the FSA.

Nicola was a senior prosecutions lawyer at the Securities and Futures Authority and a commercial litigator at City firm Denton Hall where she began her career.