One life – one retirement – two regulators

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Quietroom and DG’s Pension Map

Yesterday’s Pension and Benefits UK conference kicked off with consecutive speech’s from TPR CEO Charles Counsell and the FCA’s Edwyn Schooling Latter.

Counsell delivered a staid and unambitious rehearsal of tPR’s agenda and frankly I was bored. Schooling Latter spoke to an agenda that most in the room seemed unfamiliar with. He left without taking questions and the FCA were nowhere to be seen at the Exhibition. We need more of Schooling Latter, he was good.

Making sense of the pensions regulator

I am trying to create a ratiocination between the regulator’s approaches. It is hard to do so, the FCA is approach pensions from the point of view of the consumer while tPR looks at life through the lens of sponsor and trustee.

Referring to Quietroom’s map of the pension world, the Pensions Regulator is increasingly about how we build up money while the FCA is responsible for outcomes.

Outcomes are managed on the right of the diagram while the savings phase is to the left. While the FCA has skin in the game in saving (GPPs and Stakeholder plans) it is primarily concerned with what happens after workplace pensions give out.  While the Pensions Regulator oversees scheme pensions (and we hope CDC) , it is primarily about workplace pensions and auto-enrolment.

Actually the role of trustee and employer is becoming less important over time as pensions either level up or dumb down to a consistent contribution schedule and DB schemes are put to bed through the uniform funding code proposed by tPR. The scope for innovation in the accumulation phase is limited and tPR and its world of occupational trustees is little more than a compliance function of the DWP.

This explains why I found Counsell’s speech boring.

Making sense of the FCA

While tPR baton down the hatches, the FCA innovate. The FCA has an innovation unit, a sandbox and a pensions policy team that is looking to do new things better.

Later in the day, I biked down to Stratford through Victoria and the Olympic parks, you know you are nearing the FCA as you pass West Ham United’s Olympic stadium and the white swan pedillos that meander beneath the FCA’s offices. You can approach the FCA through the Westfield shopping centre but try a Boris Bike instead – the FCA has its own Boris Bike stand.

The three big deals on pensions for the FCA are

  1. Stopping the flow of DB transfers
  2. Sorting out the choice architecture at retirement
  3. Ensuring we get value for money.

I met with Pritheeva Rasaratnam and Cosmo Gibson (of the value for money team). Pritheeva is head of pensions and funds policy and our discussion focussed on the needs of ordinary people to get to grips with their pension pots and do the best they could by them.

We used Quietroom’s map to understand where we were coming from and how the consumer related to the various stages of their retirement savings journey. It was – to coin a phrase – clear vivid and real.

One life – one retirement – one pensions map.

Not for the first time, I thought yesterday having two regulators very unhelpful.

For all the rhetoric about working “ever more closely”, the two regulators see things so differently , behave so differently and are so physically dislocated that they might as well be on either sides of the moon.

What is worse, the pensions world is similarly bifurcated. I tried to follow reaction to Schooling Latter’s excellent speech on twitter

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The occupational pensions crowd aren’t that interested in the FCA,  I suspect they aren’t that interested in pension outcomes either.

But the members of the occupational pensions schemes are very interested in their outcomes. They are much more interested about what they can get out of their pensions than all the issues surrounding scheme administration, member communication and financial education.

  1. They want to know where there money is invested
  2. They want to know they are getting value for their money
  3. They want their money paid back to them fast and easily.

The Pensions Regulator seems to have lost sight of these fundamentals in its earnest pursuit of compliance to its various employer and trustee codes.

It is only by putting the people who own the money – the people who get paid the money- as the focus of the map, that a one-world map of pensions makes sense.

Exactly the same can be said of pensions regulation and – judging by what I saw yesterday, it is TPR and not the FCA – who have most to do.





About henry tapper

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

1 Response to One life – one retirement – two regulators

  1. Good to see that there’s no place in the map for people working with benefits, debt, financial inclusion, social care etc which are all areas that can be vital to pensioners.

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