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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Pension schemes falling short of TPR governance expectations

A large number of UK pension schemes are failing to deliver on The Pensions Regulator’s (TPR) governance and trusteeship expectations, a new survey has found.

"Vast majority" of schemes have room for improvement ©iStock

The findings show that only 54% of defined benefit (DB) schemes are engaging with integrated risk management (IRM), and that 21% have not identified issues with member data.

The researchers said a lack of engagement and quality governance is particularly visible among smaller schemes where costs and resources tend to be more stretched.

They also found that only 22% of DB schemes have a defined plan of action if their funding level falls, and that just 34% believe scheme decisions are usually made quickly.

Rob Wallace, principle at XPS Pensions Group, which carried out the research, said the findings imply that the vast majority of schemes have room for improvement.

“Especially around IRM,” he continued. “Trustees need to embrace it as it is a fundamental part of the scheme funding framework and a valuable tool to get schemes where they want to be.

“This is particularly true of smaller schemes, but IRM can be applied pragmatically and still add significant value even where budgets and resources might be limited.”

TPR set its expectations for governance and risk management through its 21st Century Trusteeship Campaign in 2017/18, targeting trustees, scheme managers, employers and advisers.

However, the XPS survey found that only 22% of DB pension schemes currently believe they “manage conflicts well”.

And although 70% of schemes have plans to improve their member data, only 42% are monitoring progress. This is despite 94% believing their governance is above average.

Wallace said it is crucial that the meeting and decision making process within schemes runs effectively to give the best chance of good outcomes for members.

"Good governance is key to having a well-run pension scheme, and a robust governance framework does not have to be overly onerous," he continued.

"The main thing for schemes to ensure is that sufficient time is spent managing important strategic issues.”

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