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Board meeting summary September 2019

A summary of The Pensions Regulator's (TPR) Board meeting in September 2019.

Apologies and welcomes

Mark Boyle welcomed all those attending including Simon Liste, Chief Technology Officer of the Pension Protection Fund (PPF). No apologies had been received.

Board members’ conflicts were noted and these members recused themselves from the meeting when the respective cases were discussed as agreed.

Matters arising

Following the recent resignation of Amber Rudd, Therese Coffey had been announced as the new Secretary of State for Work and Pensions. The Minister for Pensions was still in post and business as usual is expected.

The Chairman updated members on the ongoing Non-Executive Director recruitment process, and the Board joined him in congratulating the Executive Director of Finance and Operations, Helen Aston whose re-appointment for four years from 1 December 2019 as Executive Director of Finance and Corporate Services had received ministerial approval.

CEO’s report

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) presented his report to members, which included updates from each of the directorates.

He told members that the timing of the Pensions Bill remains unclear though it is expected to be included in the Queen’s Speech. He gave further updates on his ongoing discussions with DWP on their planned consultations on the general levy and the 2019 Spending Review.

The CEO highlighted that 27 master trusts had been authorised with 12 more applications in train. Members were also updated about a recent stakeholder engagement, where stakeholders had recognised the progress that TPR is making to be a ‘clearer, quicker, tougher’ regulator.

The Executive Director of Frontline Regulation and Director of Supervision presented case updates from Frontline Regulation.

Remuneration Committee annual update

The Remuneration Committee Chair provided an update to the Board. She noted that the Committee’s role had been extended beyond its statutory one and now covers other areas which are primarily reward, HR and people based. The Committee’s terms of reference will be reviewed and updated for approval at the December Board meeting.

Audit and Risk Assurance Committee report

The Audit and Risk Assurance Committee (ARAC) Chair gave a verbal update on the committee’s September meeting. A fuller update of the Committee’s work would be provided at the December Board meeting.

Scams update

The Director of Communications and Head of Intelligence provided an update on current scams work activity.

Members discussed the shift towards investment scams, and the need to raise the public’s awareness that the money that comes into these scams frequently originates from pension pots. Thousands of people are affected by pensions scams, including by being charged excessively high fees and by provision of poor financial advice leading to unsound decisions being made. TPR has put a lot of focus on this work and has produced good quality communications.

Members discussed the proposed action plan, the future funding of scams campaigns, and what more TPR could do to make scams less attractive to savers. As the ultimate aim of the work is to prevent scams taking place in the first place, the role of trustees and stakeholder organisations in reaching individual savers, and the importance of the provision of adequate support for trustees to take the necessary action when required was noted.

Quarter 1 Corporate Performance report, management information and KPI dashboard

The Executive Director of Corporate Services and Finance provided an update on the financial position and outlined the report. The Head of Corporate Planning reported that it had been a positive start to the year for corporate performance, with 14 of 18 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) reporting green, whilst noting some emerging challenges. Members discussed the KPIs not currently reporting as green, and updates will be provided at the November Board meeting.

The Board noted the report and its appendices.

Any other business

The General Counsel and Director of Legal Services gave an update about a roundtable discussion with the Minister for Pensions and stakeholders from the pensions industry regarding climate change risk and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) criteria. TPR’s recent amendments to the DC Investment Guidance received positive feedback and attendees generally considered the changes to the Investment Regulations in relation to investment strategy were helpful.