Creative Pension Trust? – don’t ask me!

creative auto-enrolmentcreative auto-enrolment


Industry gossip or genuine cause for concern?

A number of conversations I had at yesterday’s Capacity Crunch conference at the Friends of Auto-Enrolment focussed on the febrile finances of  master trust arrangements.

In particular, the arrangement between the trustees and the investment administrators responsible for fund delivery and pricing.

I’m happy to say that none of these discussions related to master trusts currently being offered on Pension PlayPen’s platforms, but a strong and persistent rumour relates to the relationship between Creative Auto-Enrolment, their Creative Pension Trust and Scottish Widows.

I am regularly asked for my view on Creative Auto-Enrolment and its Creative Pension Trust and our view is that we do not have one. Not because we do not want to comment, but because we have not been allowed to do due diligence on its offering.

This is a shame, because a view is needed. Here’s a fairly typical enquiry on an accountancy website

We are a very small firm with the majority of our staging dates occurring mid 2016 onwards.  Given the news about The Peoples Pension starting to charge for their setup, we have been advised by a local IFA to use Creative Auto Enrolment for the rest of our payroll clients who haven’t already setup a scheme.

I wonder if anyone …has any experience using them and could provide some feedback – positive or negative?


And here is what one accountant (authentic) has written in reply

We are going full steam ahead with Creative and are registering all our clients with them.

We had meetings with them together with our IFA and are impressed with their offering.

We have had a few clients who have staged and who have been with them for a few months.

They have developed quite a slick solution which seems to have minimised the pain. It is a plain vanilla approach so has pre-set options, which to be honest, for the typical disinterested client meets their needs perfectly.

  • no set up fees or ongoing fees to the client
  • they get paid out of the pot
  • very easy setup
  • contributions invested with Scottish Widows
  • you upload your payroll file to their portal and it tells you what to deduct from who and deals with the communications

As a practice we are promoting this early – to get as many on board as we can. What we don’t want is clients all signing up with random providers who happen to cold call them and leaving us with the admin headache of having to deal with a multitude of different systems.

The bold characters are mine.I can understand the accountants views, but what if any due diligence has been done on the sustainability of the pricing and the durability of the investment proposition?

I asked Peter Glancy of Scottish Widows on the offering to Creative Auto-Enrolment earlier this week and he provided me with a straight bat. Scottish Widows provide Creative AE with an investment platform and have no part in the management of records , the administration of auto-enrolment or the governance of the trust.

But there are strong persistent rumours that the relationship between Scottish Widows and Creative Auto-Enrolment is not gong to continue.

If these rumours are based on nothing, then Scottish Widows and Creative Auto-Enrolment should make a statement confirming this.

If however, there is a problem – and I don’t want to speculate on why that problem should be, it is important that the two accountants on this thread are aware.

The point of due diligence – whether it is carried out in-house or outsourced to Pension PlayPen, Defaqto or similar is that it is based on a thorough professional examination of what is on offer.

Clearly Creative Pension Trust has decided to submit itself to Defaqto’s assessment and it has a 3 star Defaqto rating. It has not allowed itself to be scrutinised by Pension PlayPen so we have no opinion on it. We do not have an opinion on Corpad (Peak Master Trust) or on Wellness for the same reason.

Unlike other due diligence services, Pension PlayPen charges those using our due diligence, not the provider of the service. This reduces any conflict (that the rating might be influenced by price).

It also means that , when a customer pays Pension PlayPen its fee, it gets a thorough , candid explanation of what we think of the provider’s proposition.

What is happening on the thread I quote from above is not due diligence, it is simply anecdotal chit chat. Accountant A cannot rely on Accountant B’s opinion, or vice versa.

As I state on a comment I have posted myself

Creative auto-enrolment is an IFA – part of a group of companies – all with creative in their name.

Money is invested in a master trust which invests in Scottish Widows funds, it has its own charging structure similar to that of NOW.

This is a net pay scheme.

The Pensions Regulator is keen where you recommend one provider, you make sure your client knows that other providers are available and their products may be better.

I would not rely on these comments as due diligence. I would suggest you pay for a professional opinion and have it signed off by an expert.





About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
This entry was posted in pensions and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Creative Pension Trust? – don’t ask me!

  1. S Harvey says:

    Please get your facts straight if you expect to be taken seriously. Very poor show. Industry gossip it is and yet you are perpetuating it in a thinly veiled way!

    • henry tapper says:

      I think anyone who knows me, and I don’t think you do. will know that I do my best to keep things moving in the right direction. The industry gossip, as you call it, is important. Sometimes we can stop bad things happening by nipping things in the bud, sometimes the gossip is no more than idle rumour. In this case , it seems the latter.

      We need to regulate ourselves and if you cannot see the self-cleansing capacity of social media, then ignore it as idle gossip.

      • S. Harvey says:

        Industry gossip as *you* called it I think you mean. Large font at the top of the blog.
        Glad to see you now seem to be accepting that the main point. what you posted was no more than idle gossip.
        I suggest you regulate yourself *before* blogging and potentially causing damage to many with ill- considered words.

  2. henry tapper says:

    Yes , it turned out to be industry gossip, which I’m glad about, because I don’t want genuine causes of concern. Of the 1.8m employers out there – of their accountants, IFAs , book keepers, a handful read this blog- it is an industry forum where I bring my views to the market. I am not authorative, I get things wrong. Sometimes- when I don’t know the truth, I ask the question. As I did on this occasion.

    If we knew the answers before we asked the questions, then there wouldn’t be much point!

    So I’m sorry that you feel this way, but I will continue to ask questions for myself and for others, and if you want to publish your views about me, I suggest you get on to wordpress, as blogging is free!

  3. James says:

    Load of scammers opted out of my pension as soon as I got put in to it. 3weeks ago… yet they still taken my money out the next week so I phoned them again and opted out. 3weeks later they are still taking my money. Never go into this pension trust find somewhere else if you have a brain.

  4. Pingback: Creative Pension Trust Login - UlrsPortal

Leave a Reply