The PLSA at 100: Our History
We Are The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association, the voice of workplace pensions. We have been working to help everyone achieve a better income in retirement for 100 years.
Beginnings and growth
Our mission began on 18 January 1923 when the Association of Superannuation and Pension Funds was founded, born out of work six years earlier by a group of people involved in transport sector pensions, laying the foundations to the Finance Act 1921.
Even in the early days, the association’s objective of helping everyone achieve a better income in retirement was clear, and the 1930s saw the association successfully help shape policy so that war widows and orphans would get the same pensions tax benefits as employees.
The post-war years were a time of growth for the association. The first conference took place in 1934 but it was the 1950s when the event began to take hold and by 1963 it was an annual event. Our Local groups formed in the 1950s, and in 1967 the association became the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF).
The NAPF years
In the 1970s we first began offering training courses to our members and in 1978 our preeminent Investment Conference first took place.
The 1980s was the decade when we began supporting members with guides and codes of practice. In the 1990s we helped members through a turbulent time as significant regulatory change followed the Maxwell scandal. Many people were also leaving workplace defined benefit (DB) pensions for personal defined contribution (DC) products, which were less well understood by consumers.
At the turn of the new century some of the issues facing members included economic turbulence, corporate governance and pensions tax relief simplification. In 2008 we supported members with the ramifications of the Financial Crisis. And in 2009 the Pension Quality Mark was born, pioneering the standards that much of the industry meets today.
A big focus of this decade was supporting our Local Authority members with the dramatic change they were seeing in the LGPS, including the shift to a career average scheme in 2014 and later the formation of pools.
Road to modern PLSA
In 2012 the big news for pensions was the launch of automatic enrolment and then in 2015 the introduction of freedom and choice. We worked hard liaising with government and policymakers to support our DC members and their savers during this busy time. We also launched the DB Taskforce to look at the challenges facing our funded DB scheme members.
Another industry first this decade was the launch of the Pensions Infrastructure Platform, facilitating pension fund investment in infrastructure.
It was in 2015 that we rebranded as the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA), evolving to meet the needs of the modern-day pensions landscape.
The next few years saw the launch of the highly successful Retirement Living Standards and the Cost Transparency Initiative, one of our most downloaded resources. In 2020 we supported our members with the ramifications of the Covid-19 pandemic, and for a time our events and training became digital.
Today and the future
Today we represent over 1,300 pension schemes that together provide a retirement income to more than 30 million savers in the UK, including DB and DC schemes, master trusts and local authority funds.
Our events, training and conferences are some of the biggest and best in the industry and members have a full events calendar to choose from.
The PLSA’s mission to help everyone achieve a better income in retirement is clearer than ever through our policy driving campaigns including pensions dashboards, responsible investment and stewardship, local authority pensions, retirement choices, small pots, DC value for money, DB funding, member engagement.
Our Five steps to better pensions: Time for a new consensus campaign calls for a path to increased automatic enrolment coverage and contributions by the 2030s. This is set against the backdrop of a current cost-of-living crisis, and we are supporting our members to provide extra support to savers.
As we look ahead to the next 100 years, we will continue working with members to drive policy, build networks, and provide guidance and support, to achieve a pensions framework that works and ensure that a better income in retirement is a realistic goal for everyone.
This is only a potted history. Find out more about the fascinating beginnings of the PLSA below.