The Pensions Regulator has fined the trustee of NOW: Pensions a total of £70,000 and notified the company of a deadline by which it must resolve its administrative failings.
TPR has asked the master trust to settle its ongoing administrative problems for a number of years, which has led to some scheme members’ pension savings not being collected from employers and invested by the scheme.
TPR fined the trustee £50,000 in November 2017 for its failings from 6 April 2015 to 8 August 2017 and a further £20,000 in January 2018 for failing to keep some members adequately informed.
In addition to the trustee’s fine, TPR has issued it with an Improvement Notice and a Third Party Notice has been given to the NOW: Pensions trust manager. These notices require the trustee and company to complete a number of actions to remedy their administrative downfall. These must be concluded by specified deadlines over the coming weeks and months.
If these deadlines are not met, the firm and its trustee could be fined again.
Responding to TPR’s notices, the trustee has clarified that there is no risk to any of the funds that NOW: Pensions has collected from members. And, for those who have been affected, the trustee and company is to set up a compensation scheme.
Prior to TPR’s recent fines and notices, TPR required the trustee to commission an independent skilled person’s report into the scheme’s ongoing issues in February 2017. Following this, TPR continued to engage with NOW: Pensions Limited and the trustee to ensure steps were taken to resolve its shortcomings.
From these, TPR was pleased by the trustees’ decision to voluntarily withdraw from the master trust assurance list in July 2017 due to its failings. The trustee and NPL also appointed an independent trustee Dalriada, to the board in October 2017 to assist with improvements.
Both NOW: Pensions Limited and the trustee have confirmed that they will now be prioritising the resolution of its issues.
TPR executive director of frontline regulation Nicola Parish said: “This package of measures, together with those voluntarily taken by the trustee, should ensure that the issues with NOW: Pensions which have persisted for so long are finally resolved.
“We will continue to monitor progress and will issue further fines if necessary to ensure that the trustee and NPL focus on resolving the issues as swiftly as possible.
“Trustees, sponsors and administrators should be in no doubt that we will act if we are concerned about the way schemes are being run.”
NOW: Pensions Limited interim CEO Troy Clutterbuck said: “I am truly sorry for the delays that some clients have experienced processing pension contributions. We’ve been working closely with The Pensions Regulator on the steps detailed in the Improvement Notice and Third Party notice and have made significant progress. I’m pleased to say that the vast majority of schemes are now up to date. Work continues on a small percentage of larger and more complex schemes and these will be updated by April – the deadline set by the Regulator.”
NOW: Pensions chair of trustees Nigel Waterson added: “I want to emphasise that all money we’ve received is completely safe. We’ve analysed each and every member record and if a member has experienced a delay, we will make sure we put them back in the same position they would have been in had their contributions been processed in a timely manner.”
Clutterbuck added: “To stop this from happening again we have reviewed and improved our processes and controls.”