Lesley Titcomb explains how everyone will benefit from the two regulators working together
The pensions landscape has changed dramatically in recent years, and continues to evolve at pace.
Thanks largely to the successful implementation of automatic enrolment, millions more people are saving. They quite rightly want to be able to see how the pounds and pence they are putting away are growing to help them in their retirements, with all the contrasting requirements for transparency and security that their demands bring.
They want – they need – to be able to trust those to whom they are giving the keys to their financial future.
As regulators, neither we at TPR nor our colleagues at the FCA can afford to stand still as the pensions landscape changes around us. It’s only by evolving ourselves that we can keep pace with that change, to ensure that we are protecting members’ savings.
Although we each have our own separate remits set by legislation, most of the issues that affect the pensions sector are less easily defined. It has been vital therefore for us to work alongside each other to highlight and tackle problems, while encouraging change for the better.
Just this summer we ran our first joint scams awareness campaign, which has proven hugely successful in encouraging those considering transferring their pension to first make sure they know the warning signs of a scam.
But while we have collaborated on projects, there was a clear opportunity for us to work even more closely together to strengthen our relationship to produce better results both for the industry and, most importantly, pension holders.
A NEW FRAMEWORK
The new joint regulatory strategy that we unveiled at the PLSA conference in October is the framework on which that new approach is being taken forward.
We’ve begun by setting out our vision for the pensions sector over the next five to 10 years, including highlighting the issues that are contributing to the prospect of people not having enough to get by on when they retire, or at least not to the standard that they expect.
Our strategy is designed to tackle those issues by aiming to ensure pension products provide the income that members expect, with the security they need, at the right price and with the minimum of complexity.
At TPR we’ll take a more hands- on approach to regulation. We’ll be more proactive, guiding trustees, investment consultants and fund managers when they need advice and pushing them when they need to act.
A key point is that this isn’t about micromanaging schemes, but about building closer, more effective relationships with them so that together we can spot problems earlier and act before issues escalate.
Launching the strategy at the PLSA Annual Conference brought with it great benefits, and we were extremely pleased by the positive response from the audience. Being able to explain our new approach while we had the great and the good from across the industry in one place meant we were able to answer their immediate questions on how we would be working in the coming months and years, rather than leaving people with any doubt in their mind.
My conversations through the day, and over the rest of the conference, each harked back to the same point – that what we were doing was not only valuable but vital.
The joint strategy document is the starting point, not the end of the process. It is necessarily broad – and while some areas of our joint work are already well underway, others will only develop fully as we move through 2019, such as our review of the consumer pensions journey.
As the pensions landscape develops, so TPR and the FCA will have to adapt to meet any new challenges that may arise. Working together will help us address those challenges more quickly and more effectively – meaning better protection for schemes and better results for members.
Lesley Titcomb is Chief Executive of The Pensions Regulator