BLOG: A look back at the PLSA AC 2017

It’s already that time of year again, when the pensions industry decamps to one of Britain’s great northern cities for three days of, well, pensions.

This year’s conference returns to Liverpool, with day one kicking off today, but before we get stuck in, now is a good chance to reflect on last year’s conference.

Having been appointed to the role in June 2017, Guy Opperman made his debut speech to the industry at the conference, revealing that the Department for Work and Pensions had taken over the dashboard development.

A year later and the industry is still waiting for the feasibility study that was due in the Spring; one wonders whether Royal London director of policy, Steve Webb, would still say the DWP taking on the dashboard was a “huge step forward”.

In a panel debate on the future of auto-enrolment at last year’s industry meet-up, Now Pensions CEO Troy Clutterbuck called for a debate on the employee contribution skew.

Clutterbuck said: “The way that the minimum contributions are structured at the moment ends up skewing the cost more to the employee, is that right, it may well be, but I don’t think we’ve had that debate.”

TPR chief executive Lesley Titcomb also revealed last year that the regulator had issued a section 231 ‘contribution schedule’ warning notice, the first time it had used the power. A year later and the regulator continues to publish updates on the tough action it is taking against schemes and employers that fail to comply.

A year on and more voices in the industry are speaking up about that skew, with the PLSA calling for employers to match what employees contribute into their pensions.

This time last year the PLSA itself asked members to scrap the association’s constitution so it could “simplify governance processes”. It also announced plans to create a single policy board, seeing the PLSA scrap its DB and DC councils. The policy board is set to launch on Friday, chaired by Emma Douglas.

And with that quick review, we welcome this year’s conference.

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