For those not able to make the Pension PlayPen coffee morning today, here – in his own words- is the gist of his remarks. You can follow them in bullets on the powerpoint and we will be posting the video in the not too distant.
Most regulators manage about 15 years of operation before they are replaced or revised.
TPR was established in 2005, as a response to the Maxwell scandal and other events, and has expanded from an initial establishment of about 20 people and a budget of £10 to around 1000 people and a budget of around £100M and on a rule-of thumb measure, costing employers around £2B a year in overheads.
It is probably time to examine whether we still need it in its present form, whether it is still needed to protect members’ outcomes, and whether some of its activities are counter-productive.
Other regulators are adopting a ‘compassionate regulation’ regime, attempting to support regulated persons rather than punish them, and complying with government policies on reducing regulation.
It is hard at present to measure whether TPR is value-for-money and whether it has been sufficiently professionalized. It shows signs of Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy, ie ‘that in any bureaucracy the people devoted to the benefit of the bureaucracy always get in control and those dedicated to the goals that the bureaucracy us supposed to accomplish have diminishing influence or are eliminated entirely’.
It could be repurposed to more effective in proving safe havens to pension funds that need to modernize themselves, and have more effective control of pension scams, which are in reality the main threat to pension scheme members, rather than lay trusteeship.
It also needs to review whether there is regulatory creep, ie adopting policies on ESG, DEI and consolidation which are second order issues, and not appropriate for regulators to be involved with. Finally trade bodies need to use their lobbying skills to participate in discussions with regulators not so much on detail as on purpose and tone.