Guest comment: Future-proofing pensions administration standards isn’t achieved by luck alone

Pasa’s objective is simple - to promote and improve the quality of pensions administration services for UK pension schemes. We don’t achieve this objective by luck alone, expert individuals have dedicated their time over the last ten years building and refining a robust organisational structure which has allowed us to focus simultaneously on three distinct and specific goals – strategy, operational governance and delivery, and thought-leadership.

The organisational structure of Pasa is split into three sections, board, committees and working groups

The board is made-up of industry volunteers appointed from its corporate membership and is responsible for setting the organisations strategy, and legal and financial governance. Pasa is a Community Interest Company (CIC) and the board are all directors of the CIC, with the same responsibilities of any company director. The board is supported in maintaining this governance and oversight by an independent company secretary.

Focus within Pasa as an association is on ensuring we maintain our reach and relevance to our industry now and in the future. We have an eye on how we expect the demands on pensions administration to evolve and we work to ensure the bar continues to be raised across our industry in both the short and long term – all the while keeping our ultimate goal at heart, to best protect member outcomes. We recognise the challenges facing the industry will change, and anticipate focus will increasingly switch from DB to DC. To reflect this we expect pension providers and their administrators will expand from their traditional base.

Our operational governance is delivered by our committees which provide the structure for the day to day running of the organisation. The committees report directly into the board, developing their own operational plans in line with the annual Pasa Business Plan. These committees are:

-Standards – responsible for drafting, maintaining and developing the Pasa Standards. These standards are the heart of the Pasa Accreditation programme and used as the framework for audit process.

-Industry policy – tasked with contributing to Pasa’s thought leadership by providing insight into current and forthcoming issues and consultations.

-Membership and funding – responsible for developing our market presence and actively growing membership.

-Accreditation – works closely with both the standards committee to develop the Pasa Accreditation programme and our appointed external auditor to support organisations on their journey to achieving accreditation.

-PR – developing and delivering Pasa’s PR and marketing activity.

Working groups are a relatively new addition to the Pasa structure. The first working group was set up a couple of years ago to focus specifically on providing (pre Equalisation) GMP guidance. As new areas of focus were identified and Guidance successfully delivered, the working groups became popular with individuals with a specific area of interest and expertise, and also proved a very efficient and successful method of increasing targeted high quality content and guidance. The initial working groups reported into the Industry Policy Committee, but as their number increased, this line of reporting moved directly to the board. Now all working groups include a board sponsor who, alongside the group’s chair, ensures the groups receive immediate guidance and feedback on Pasa procedures, opportunities and support available.

Working groups’ expertise is supplemented by carefully selected expert partners. There are currently 11 working groups covering wide ranging topics from cybercrime and fraud, to master trusts, and we’re expecting updates and guidance releases from a number of these in 2021.

Pasa is a not for profit membership organisation, run by members for members. However, certain expenses are required to manage and run the association and the CIC, and of course to fund our free events. The Pasa infrastructure is supported by a huge number of unpaid industry contributors. Without this input we would not be able to provide our advice, support and guidance to the industry. To this end we don’t underestimate the contribution made by all our members and expert partners, both in terms of their membership fees and support employees to give their time deliver the great work undertaken by our network of volunteers.

The success of Pasa is achieved through an effective structure supported by the industry, with the input of time and expertise from a number of industry specialists. In reality this has nothing to do with luck at all!

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