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Board Meeting Summary March 2020

A summary of The Pensions Regulator's (TPR) Board meeting in March 2020.

Apologies and welcomes

The Chairman welcomed all those attending, including Charles Randell, Chair of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Katherine Easter, Chief People Officer of the PPF. There were no apologies. The Board noted this was the last meeting of non-executive members Tilly Ross and Margaret Snowdon.

The wider political context of the Budget and COVID-19, in which the meeting takes place, was noted.

A conflict was declared for one item, for which the Board agreed that the Board member should recuse themselves. There were no other conflicts.

The Chairman's updates

The Chairman was pleased to announce the re-election of Non-Executive Director, Sarah Smart who will continue as Chair of the Audit and Risk Committee (ARAC), and that Non-Executive Director, Kirstin Baker has agreed to take over the Chair of the Remuneration Committee (RemCom) following Margaret Snowdon’s departure on 8 May 2020. He also announced that successful Non-Executive Director candidates Chris Morson and Katie Kapernaros will join TPR on 1 April 2020 and will be members of ARAC and RemCom respectively.

He updated members on recruitment for the replacement of the TPR Chair and the Chair of the Determinations Panel, both of whose term ends in 2021.

Members were briefed on a number of major cases by the Director of Supervision.

CEO's report

Charles Counsell, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) introduced the paper and updated members on TPR’s key work and achievements since the last Board meeting, and briefed members on the progress and plan leading to the launch of TPR’s new strategy.

The CEO was pleased to announce that Mel Charles had been appointed as Director of Automatic Enrolment and will take up the role no later than the end of May.

David Fairs, Executive Director of Regulatory Policy, Analysis and Advice (ED RPAA) briefed members that the Pensions Scheme Bill has reached report stage, and the most significant amendment has been on climate related financial disclosures. 

The largely favourable reception by press and industry, with only minor resistance from some employers, to the Draft DB Funding Code launched on 3 March 2020 was noted.

The CEO updated members about COVID-19 planning and noted TPR is following Public Health England and the World Health Organisation’s guidelines. Guidance, to be included in our annual funding statement, is being developed to support decisions around pending scheme valuations likely to be impacted by the pandemic. TPR will consider whether any easements could provide some relief to employers but still meet our objective of protecting members benefits.

Pensions superfunds

TPR Board discussed TPR’s approach to the regulation of superfunds (SFs) prior to new legislation being forthcoming.

It was discussed that TPR is actively encouraging a dialogue with other innovative models that do not recognise themselves as superfunds but may pose similar risks, in order for TPR to agree the best way forward.

Observations from the Chair of the FCA

Charles Randell, Chair of the FCA, briefed the Board on developments at the FCA. He thanked the Board for the invitation and welcomed further cooperation between the organisations to improve pension provision and supervision for all customers and savers.

Corporate Plan 2020-21

The Executive Director of Corporate Services and Finance, Head of Corporate Planning and Performance, Director of HR (interim) and Head of Finance outlined the paper to the Board. Further to discussion and members’ scrutiny the Board approved the Plan subject to suggested amendments.

Independent Trustee Appointments Process Review

Members were briefed on work that had been carried out to review and develop the process for the appointment of independent trustees, in order to encourage a wider range of trustee firms to tender for appointments and build better relationships with those trustees.

Any other business

On behalf of the Board, the Chair thanked Margaret Snowdon, a non-executive director for over four years and Chair of the RemCom since 2017, and Tilly Ross who has been a non-executive director for over four years, sitting on both the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee and Remuneration Committee (RemCom), whose terms expire in May / April respectively.