Welplan to exit master trust market as environment ‘favours much larger scale’

Kim Kaveh reports...

Welplan Pensions has triggered its exit from the master trust market, with just a few days to go until The Pensions Regulator’s (TPR) application deadline.

The £147m scheme – set up in 1988 – informed the watchdog of its decision on 18 March, as it seeks to focus on its employee benefits business.

Welplan Pensions will continue to support its existing 1,900 participating employers and 55,000 individual members until they can be transitioned to a new provider, but stopped accepting any new employers on 11 March.

Following a strategic review, the master trust’s board concluded it was no longer viable to continue to support the scheme in the long term, and as such it was necessary to withdraw from the market.

Working closely with and following a process led by the trustee board, the master trust will be actively seeking an appropriate new home for its members and employers, it said.

Chief executive Bruce Kirton said: “This has been a very difficult decision. We’ve always been and will remain committed to offering the best possible service and value to our employers and their members in both pensions and employee benefits.

“But, over the last six months it has become increasingly clear that the master trust regulatory environment is one that favours much larger scale. There is now no meaningful place for a small- or even medium-sized specialist business such as Welplan Pensions. This is something we’ve already seen with other smaller providers being acquired by larger ones.”

Welplan joins 31 other master trusts that have triggered their exit from the market, and eight that have already exited since the regulator’s regime began last October – as stated in its latest monthly update earlier this month.