And time goes on – and so do I

'Really? We've only been here thirty minutes? Heck, it seems like an eternity.'

If this isn’t a line from a Johnny Cash or Hank Williams song, then I may have just written the history of Country and Western in one line!

Time does go on, we are now well into the next critical period of auto-enrolment and I find that I am still going on about the unwanted (and unintended) bias in the guidance given by the Government to employers.

In Ruth Gilbe’s pithy article in FT Adviser  I’m far more troublesome than I intended – but the article’s so on the money, I can only thank the FT!

At present, the only pensions listed on the regulator’s website are trust-based schemes…..

Henry Tapper, director of First Actuarial and founder of the Pension Playpen, has said as a result there is an “unwanted bias” on The Pensions Regulator website where workplace pensions are concerned.

Mr Tapper said as a result of the regulator’s decision the likes of Legal & General, Royal London and Aviva, which he claimed had great workplace pensions, did not get a look in on the website because they aren’t trust based.

He said: “People should be able to choose from the whole of the market.

“The only way you get to find out which insurers are in the market is you have to click a link, go to the Association of British Insurer’s website and the ABI then put up a list of all these insurers who will potentially do business with them.”

Time has gone by – two years at least – and I have been going on about this every month.

time goes on 2

The reason for this bias is obvious. The Pension Regulator can talk about occupational schemes but it cannot talk about contract based schemes (which are regulated by a different Regulator).

So though the Pensions Regulator regulates workplace pensions, it does not feel it can mention the contract based plans that are qualifying workplace pension schemes which are used by a large percentage of employers including the likes of ASDA for auto-enrolment.

Is it any wonder that accountants and other non-regulated business advisors are confused? I remember a couple of years back meeting with Hugh Pym, who was then chief economic correspondent for the BBC, who thought that you could only enrol with NEST.

The public ignorance of what and how to buy is staggering -even to the Office of Fair Trading…


So why, after all the time that has gone by, has the Pensions Regulator made proper choice available to those employers who want the best for their staff?

If you want to find the page to which Ruth’s article refers it is here

The  link to the ABI page is here

And if you go to the ABI website, what you find advertised is a random selection of workplace pensions which includes the People’s Pension! (People’s is owned by ABI member B&CE) but is a non-insured mastertrust – confused?

The website advertises Prudential, who’s workplace pension is not available to employers choosing a workplace pension today – confused?

But worst of all, the ABI website, which is supposed to show us the insurance companies offering workplace pensions, doesn’t include Legal & General. Why? Because Legal & General have resigned from the ABI. 



Enough is enough

We cannot allow more time to go by with this ridiculous state of affairs continuing. The Pensions Regulator cannot continue to advertise a random list of providers just because they have paid their subs to the ABI as representative of what people can buy as contract based workplace pensions.

It is much much worse than the FT article suggests and the Pensions Regulator is not only restricting choice, it is providing confusing information which mixes up master trusts and contract based plans, offers providers who won’t accept applications and misses out a mainstream provider altogether.

It is time that the link to the ABI was taken down and replaced by a list of insurance companies offering workplace pensions as GPPs (aka contract based plans).



In case anyone is in any doubt , that list is short and comprises



Legal and General

Royal London

Scottish Widows

Standard Life


There is a second list of insurers who are not active in the current market which offer workplace pensions to larger employers

Friends Life




If you want to know more about these plans and find out if you can get a quote from any of the above you can contact them directly or you can use


Note- these ratings are historic and employer specific and should not be relied upon for your choice of workplace pension.


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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