Pension Quality Mark

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Pension Quality Mark

The standard of excellence for pension schemes.

Pension Quality Mark

The standard of excellence for pension schemes.

The Pension Quality Mark (PQM) is an accreditation that recognises and celebrates high quality defined contribution (DC) pension schemes.

PQM standards go beyond the minimum regulatory requirements, recognising workplace schemes that have good contribution levels, good governance, and encourage employees to save for their future.

Pension schemes that meet the PQM standards are contributing to the PLSA’s mission of helping everyone achieve a better income in retirement.


To meet the standards the employer must offer employees a minimum contribution of 12% (with at least 6% from the employer) or 15% for PQM Plus (with at least 10% from the employer).

The scheme must have effective governance, an appropriate default investment strategy, an understanding of its members with an inclusive engagement strategy, and support for members at retirement. The standards also set out best practice, and the evidence a scheme can provide to demonstrate that it meets the standards.

PQM recognises high quality pension schemes which meet minimum contribution levels (12% of pensionable pay), good governance, good member experience and which encourage employees to save for their future. 

The core principles of the PQM Standards are that a pension scheme should have: a commitment from the sponsoring employer to enrol all employees at minimum contribution levels, an effective board, a good quality default investment strategy, an understanding of its members with an inclusive engagement strategy, and support for members at retirement. The Standards also set out what we consider to be good practice, and the type of evidence that a scheme can provide to demonstrate that it meets the Standards.

In 2019 the standards were extensively revised and updated to reflect changes in regulation and practice since the original PQM was introduced in 2009. 


Download the standards

benefits For pension schemes 

The Pension Quality Mark (PQM) is a quality standard recognised by the HR and pensions industry, and the Government. Holding Pension Quality Mark demonstrates to your employees and members that the scheme is good and meets certain high standards.

With the PQM you can:

  • Demonstrate that your pension scheme has been independently ranked as top quality
  • Establish a competitive advantage in staff retention and recruitment
  • Support your employees in saving for an income in retirement
  • Position your company at the forefront of employer responsibility

When your scheme qualifies for the PQM you'll receive a certificate confirming compliance with the PQM standards , which you can display in your workplace. You'll be able to use the PQM logo on all your scheme communications such as websites, annual statements, headed paper, and also on your recruitment advertising.

The name of your scheme will also appear on the our website. With your permission, we might want to use your scheme as a case study in presentations and with the press, giving you further exposure.

 Additional benefits include:

  • PQM plaque
  • E-Newsletter with information about PQM and updates from the PLSA
  • Discounts on selected PLSA events and training
  • Access to selected PLSA webinars 

Benefits for consultants, advisers and providers

Many employers offer very good rewards and benefits, especially pensions. The PQM is an excellent way to demonstrate to employees and potential employers that the scheme is a good one. Don't forget to tell your clients about PQM, and encourage them to apply if they are eligible. 

You may also make an application on behalf of an employer or scheme. We will be happy to assist if you have any queries about the application process or PQM. 

020 7601 1736  |  [email protected]

About the PQM

The Pension Quality Mark was developed by the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) in 2009. It had the following aims: For employers and schemes to demonstrate that the scheme was a good one, to highlight best practice, and to drive up standards.

The Pension Quality Mark contribution standard connects with the PLSA’s policy priority of adequacy, and advocating measures that support saving for an adequate income in retirement. Find out more about the PLSA's work on retirement income adequacy here.

The PLSA is also a signatory to the Better Pensions Charter, which aims to achieve a fair, adequate and affordable retirement savings system for all.  

the PQM team

Jacqueline Shoard
PQM Administration Executive

Jacqueline is the main point of contact for PQM applicants and holders. Jackie undertakes the initial PQM assessments and can offer advice and assistance on your application, as well as help with general enquiries. She also looks after the PQM website, newsletter and social media.

Jackie has previously worked in administration and customer advice roles in Higher Education, the charity sector and for professional associations.

Krista D’Alessandro
Senior Policy Adviser

Krista joined the Pension and Lifetime Savings Association in January 2023 as a Senior Policy Adviser.

She is passionate about public policy that promotes economic and social equity, and prior to joining the PLSA, she worked in Washington D.C. as a Senior Tax Policy Analyst at Enterprise Community Partners, a national affordable housing non-profit.

Krista has a Master’s in Public Policy from Georgetown University and a Bachelor’s in Economics from Boston College.

Joe Dabrowski
PLSA Deputy Director - Policy

Joe is responsible for policy areas including DB, DC, and LGPS pension provision, corporate and scheme governance and institutional investment issues. He is a Board member of the Cost Transparency Initiative, and an advisor to the LGPS Scheme Advisory Board (England & Wales).

Before joining the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association, Joe spent nine years at the Pension Protection Fund, where his last role was Head of Chief Executive’s Office. Earlier in his career he worked in policy and operational roles within central Government, including the Home Office and Defra.

Andy Cheseldine
Chair, PQM Standards Committee

Andy joined Capital Cranfield Trustees in 2017. He is Chair or Trustee at a number of pension schemes ranging from a 17 deferred member DB scheme to a 500k member DC Workplace Pension. Before that, Andy acted as adviser to trustees and employers at Watson Wyatt, Hewitt Bacon & Woodrow and latterly as a partner at LCP. 

Andy has a long record of advising on regulatory, governance, change management, investment (particularly asset security), provider selection and communication issues. He sits on PASA's DC Governance Group and the Asset Security in DC Working Group.  He was elected to the DC Council of the PLSA in 2013 and re-elected in 2016 till its winding up in 2018.

Ian McKinlay
PQM Standards Committee

Ian is the CIO of the Lloyds Banking Group staff pensions schemes, for £45bn across several large DB and DC schemes. In the last three years he has reformed the investment strategies and governance arrangements for the schemes, creating an in-house fiduciary CIO. Legacy arrangements were complex and expensive. Strategies have converged, risk management transformed, return seeking assets precision based. 2018 saw the largest asset transition in UK DC pensions, member outcomes were enhanced as a result.Including the 'outs and the 'ins', the number of mandates across the £45bn has halved. Costs, including fund management, have been cut by a third. The ESG 'footprint' is now front and centre of thinking, particularly climate risk. This has been enabled through dynamic decision making within the CIO team, within a robust framework of oversight.Ian was previously the CIO at the UK Pension Protection Fund and then at Aviva Staff Pensions, during his tenure these schemes won awards for innovation in strategy, risk management and governance.

Mike Nixon
PQM Standards Committee

Mike is Head of Pensions for Leonardo, a manufacturer with major UK businesses in helicopters, electronics, defence and security systems. He is responsible for two DB schemes which remain open to future accrual as well as an award-winning DC scheme for new entrants. The schemes cover 7,000 employees supported by £2.5bn in assets. He has over 30 years of industry experience, having previously worked for occupational schemes within the insurance sector. He holds professional qualifications from both the Chartered Insurance Institute and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. He has participated in various industry bodies including the pension panel of the Engineering Employers Federation and the DB Council of the PLSA.

Will Sutton
PQM Standards Committee

Will is a Partner in the pensions law practice at Reed Smith. Will mainly advises trustees of occupational pension schemes on their duties in running their DB or DC arrangements. His clients also include sponsoring employers, investors, lenders and other parties from across the globe who need to get to grips with the UK pensions regime. Many of those clients spend a lot of time addressing DC governance to ensure they get it right, and want to make sure that automatic enrolment is a platform for good retirement outcomes for their employees or members.Will is an active member of the Association of Pensions Lawyers. He also has experience as an independent trustee, as well as in providing training sessions on all aspects of pensions to trustees and other professionals in the pensions industry.

If you want to know more about PQM, if have any queries or concerns about applying please contact us and we will be happy to assist.

If you are unsure whether your scheme meets the PQM standards, or have questions about what evidence to provide, please contact us and we'll be happy to discuss the application informally.   

020 7601 1736  |  [email protected]

Better Pensions Charter

This new pension charter brings together voices from across the pensions industry, as well as employer and consumer representative groups, who are lobbying for positive change in pensions.

Find out more

PQM Holders