Scottish Widows and Lewis master trusts apply for authorisation as 44 master trusts close

James Phillips reports...

The Scottish Widows Master Trust and the Lewis Workplace Pension Trust have applied for authorisation to continue operating in the master trust market, Retirement Planner’s sister publication Professional Pensions can reveal.

Lewis’ application was submitted by the scheme’s strategist and scheme funder, Lewis Investment, on 29 March.

Scottish Widows also confirmed it had applied ahead of the 31 March deadline.

It came as The Pensions Regulator (TPR) revealed 30 master trusts had applied for authorisation by the deadline of 29 March, with 10 others expected to apply after having been granted extensions of up to six weeks.

The watchdog’s monthly update also disclosed that, by the end of March, nine master trusts had exited the sector, with another 35 set to leave, representing a 52% reduction in the size of the market.

Six schemes which featured in the regulator’s earlier updates were no longer counted among the master trust figures.

Just three master trusts have so far been authorised, including Legal & General’s two schemes, which received approval last Friday (29 March).

The regulator said the authorisation process was leading to a regime which savers can have confidence in.

Executive director of frontline regulation Nicola Parish said: “Passing the end of the application window is an important step towards a market of authorised master trusts which millions of pension savers can have confidence in.”

While there are still a significant number of applications to reviewed and received, the watchdog said it was “confident that we will process these applications within the timeframes laid out in law”.

A number of the master trusts exiting the market have confirmed plans to be consolidated within a number authorised vehicle, including Strawberry Workplace Pensions and Trust Pensions, which will both join Smart Pension.