Number of authorised master trusts could total 40

The number of authorised master trusts participating in the market could total 40 after the deadline for schemes to submit their authorisation applications passed on 31 March.

In its latest monthly report The current master trust market, The Pensions Regulator (TPR) revealed that three master trusts had been granted authorisation, 27 authorisation applications have been submitted and are awaiting authorisation, while 10 schemes have been granted an application extension.

The three authorised schemes are the Willis Towers Watson master trust, LifeSight, and the two Legal & General master trusts, one net-pay and one relief-at-source, while the 10 schemes granted an extension have a further six weeks to submit their applications.

TPR executive director of frontline regulation, Nicola Parish, said that TPR has a “large volume of applications” to process but that it was “confident that we will process these applications within the timeframes laid out in law”.

She continued: “We always expected there to be a peak in applications and have planned accordingly.”

Barnett Waddinham partner, Mark Futcher commented that providers had been "much slower" in their authorisation applications "than the market expected".

He added: "It is right that the authorisation process is robust. To this end, the interesting news will be those providers who fail the authorisation process – this will inform where the bar has been set. We do expect some large casualties.

“The second aspect is this is the first test and we need to ensure that master trusts continue to be robust and evolve with the needs of their members.

"We are also mindful that master trusts are very similar to contract based arrangements and we would like to see similar treatment across both groups.”

In its report, TPR noted that the number of master trusts in the market had fluctuated for “various reasons”, including trustees reporting whether their scheme meets TPR’s definition of a master trust, and that its monthly statistics will continue to be published until June 2019, taking into account any further fluctuations.

Commenting on the passing deadline, 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.

“A number of applications have now been submitted and we are expecting more applications over the next few weeks from those schemes which have been granted an extension.”

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