Bill – get some DC resource into the Regulator now!

English: animation showing a micron particle h...

English: animation showing a micron particle having a brownian motion inside a polymer like network (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve taken to tweeting when listening to people talk at conferences.

A tweet a day keeps boredom away but like a micron particle in Brownian motion, when I get worked up, I tend to over – agitate  … (overtweeet) – this clearly happened yesterday.

Several of my tweepy followers pushed off, fed up with their timelines bunged up with my thoughts from the #opdu conference.

You can read my running commentary on this great event run by the Occupational Pensions Defence Union (thanks Grant, Jonathan and the team) – on my twitter timeline.

If you would like to follow me on @henryhtapper then please do, I suspect that some of you already do and that some of you used to but got fed up! I am trying!


Enough of this and on to Bill Galvin, who is the Pension Regulator. Like the Government Actuary, he has his own department but his is situated in sunny Brighton (not dismal Chancery Lane). His job is to make sure that pensions run smoothly which they have been doing over the past few years.

This is partly due to the excellently managed Pension Protection Fund, which takes on unloved DB schemes forsaken by careless or bankrupt employers. Sadly many of the employers became bankrupt stumping up contributions to the pension schemes so the Pension Regulator treads a fine line between keeping companies honest and solvent. This Bill Galvin and his team, do very well.

But so much of their time has been spent overseeing defined benefit schemes , that defined contribution plans have had to sit on the subs bench , seldom getting a run out in front of the fans. Judging from Bill Galvin’s speech yesterday, I suspect he hasn’t been watching his reserves too much of late.

He looks and sound distinctly uncomfortable on the subject, This is Bill yesterday on the paper mountain his department produced on DC at the start of the year

“I know some people thought that there was rather too much paper but defined contributions are very complicated and there’s a lot of different parts to look at”

Sorry Bill, that’s the comment of a hapless amateur! DC schemes can be assessed against some pretty simple measures and if you’d stuck with your original concept of what made for good – the November 2011 “Good DC outcomes” paper, you’d be a lot better off than with the 32″ good DC characteristics you came up with in January (the  number that you couldn’t remember).

If this is a criticism , it is a criticism of resource not of competence. I don’t want my Regulator getting hung up on how many DC characteristics there are, but I want to know that within his department , there is someone who I can trust to be authoritative on DC. The Pension Regulator does not have such a person, as far as I can see it does not even have a head of DC.

Which is astonishing! They did have a head of DC (who I’d rather forget) but they packed her off into retirement with a gong and a fat pension and have not found a replacement in the last six months.

DC is not reserve team anymore, it is in the premier league and it is expected to exceed DB in terms of assets by as early as 2019. It is what most of us will relay on to supplement our £145 pw basic state pension. It is  the principal vehicle for the savings of the 11m odd auto-enrolling over the next five years and it is what got me up this morning to write this!

So having a pensions regulator who bumbles along without a head of DC producing paper mountains of tedious stuff about 32 characteristics of good DC  is not good 

Bill,  tPR need  a gong-worthy head of DC asap. (tweet that someone)

Where to look?

– well there are a lot of pension managers with experience of running DC schemes who are currently losing their jobs as companies cut back. Some of these have experience working with insurers, some worked for insurers and some worked with insurers , in house administration teams and third party administrators.

Yes it is complicated – but so is the PPF and just about everything else in pensions and the very best people can cut through the crap ,make it sound simple , sound and be authoritative on what really matters.

If you want me to put together a short-list for you, I’d be happy to!

My final tweet on the matter read like this

Have to like Bill Galvin at #opdu Very straightforward honest and open! give him some DC resource

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
This entry was posted in actuaries, auto-enrolment, dc pensions, de-risking, defined aspiration, NEST, pensions, Retirement and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to Bill – get some DC resource into the Regulator now!

  1. Simon Kew says:

    Henry – The thrust of your blog is spot on. A well meaning, but apparently under resourced regulator. That said, there are some very capable and dynamic people in Brighton that are working extremely hard on DC, as I type.

    The PPF is well run, but it only has one thing to do – look after itself. TPR has a much more complex brief, which (in DC especially) it has to do without treading on the toes of the FSA, or whatever it happens to be called this week.

    TPR, as with any government body, is rather like an iceberg…so much going on under the surface that can’t be seen!

    • henry tapper says:


      TPR are well meaning, competent, hard-working and under-resourced!

      I am pleased to hear from the man himself that a DC supremo is on his or her way and that the issue is being addressed.

      About time too!

      As for the FSA , they do not know about pensions. However two wrongs don’t make a right.

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  3. I nearly lost my rag with them. But it fell into the bucket.

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