TPR and FCA to review consumer pensions journey in joint strategy

James Phillips writes...

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The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have outlined plans to better understand the consumer pensions journey as they launch their joint strategy.

The collegiate regulatory approach, published today (18 October), will see the two watchdogs commit to a four-pronged effort over the next five to 10 years to boost savers’ outcomes and understanding of pensions.

After consultation with the industry, they said they will aim to improve access and participation, funding and investments, governance and administration, and consumer understanding and decision-making with workplace pension schemes.

Among the pledges is to launch a joint review of the consumer pensions journey in 2019 – exploring how disclosures and information provided by schemes and providers, as well as guidance and advice services, aid members in their decision-making.

The review will also consider the timing, method and content of communications to members in both contract- and trust-based schemes.

To work with govt, providers and pension schemes

Speaking at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA) annual conference in Liverpool today (18 October), TPR chief executive Lesley Titcomb said it was important for people to recognise the regulators do work together – and have done since before the strategy.

“It is particularly relevant to have this because there is so much change going on and we detect a thirst amongst you to understand clearly what each of us, but equally to understand where we work together,” she said.

“As regulators, we have to adapt to make sure that we are fit for purpose and to make sure members’ savings are protected in this evolving landscape. This means all members.”

Noting that “the pensions sector is complex”, the document highlighted how TPR and FCA will also work with a range of other bodies, including government departments, guidance bodies, and pension schemes and providers.

It also set out where the two watchdogs have similar or overlapping areas of interest, such as driving value for money, and details which will lead on the issue – with some areas led by both.

On value for money, the joint strategy described a regulatory regime characterised by a broader range of interventions from both regulators, with clearer standards to be set and enforced.

The joint approach will be aided through joint assessments of risks and harms; joined-up working on cross-sector initiatives with further information sharing and joint consultations, review or impact assessments; and communications around joint work, with greater transparency of those initiatives and how they work.

Also speaking at the PLSA conference, FCA director of policy David Geale added the document “sets the scene” for the next few years, noting if the regulators meet their four objectives, they will do their job of combatting the “overall harm that people don’t get what they want or need”.