Mercer Master Trust applies to TPR as ‘tsunami’ of last minute submissions expected

Kim Kaveh reports...

Mercer Master Trust has sent off its authorisation application to The Pensions Regulator (TPR) taking the total number of submissions received and awaiting response to 12.

The scheme submitted its application on 20 February, at which point there was over one month to go until the authorisation deadline at the end of March.

Mercer partner Roger Breeden said: “We’ve worked closely with the trustees and we’d like to thank them for their support in submitting this application.

“We welcome the authorisation framework and look forward to working with TPR in the months ahead.”

It comes as the watchdog’s monthly update, published today (6 March), revealed four more master trusts had applied for authorisation by 28 February, compared to the end of January. However, some 38 of the 90 schemes, including NEST, are yet to declare their intentions, although one has been granted an extension of up to six weeks.

By the end of February, just one master trust – Willis Towers Watson’s LifeSight – had been authorised by TPR.

Hymans Robertson senior consultant Sharon Bellingham said she hopes that TPR is prepared for a “possible tsunami of applications” expected ahead of the deadline.

She said: “Given the scale of what’s involved and what’s required, it’s sensible that schemes are taking time to ensure a solid and robust application.”

She further noted that it will be “interesting to see” whether any further requests for extensions are made, and what happens post-authorisation.

“Subsequent engagement, including face-to-face meetings, will take place between TPR and key stakeholders involved with the operation of the master trust, as well as with the trustees,” she continued.

“Equally, post authorisation, we will move into the new landscape of heightened supervision and the bar will continue to rise, and quite rightly so.”

So far, the names of nine master trusts that have applied or been authorised are publicly known. The most recent applications were sent by SEI on 28 February, and The People’s Pension the day before that.

Standard Life submitted applications for two of its master trusts last month. In January, Legal & General confirmed it was among the master trusts that had applied, while Crystal Trust and BlueSky – both operated by Evolve Pensions – applied in December.

Smart Pension and the Atlas Master Trust have both told RP’s sister publication Professional Pensions that their applications will be submitted to TPR in the very near future.

One more master trust exited the market last month, taking this figure up to eight, while the number of master trusts that have triggered their exit from the market remained at 31.