Over two thirds optimistic about TPR DB funding code

Over two thirds (67 per cent) of pension professionals expect The Pension Regulator’s (TPR) new defined benefit (DB) funding code to positively impact their schemes, research has revealed.

Survey data from Aon revealed that just 9 per cent thought the new code would have a negative impact.

When asked whether their schemes would adopt the fast track or bespoke approaches for their next valuation, 53 per cent said they would opt for the latter, 19 per cent for fast track and 28 per cent unsure.

Aon partner, Paul McGlone, said: “The views so far are based on an expectation that the code will provide greater clarity and guidance while maintaining flexibility – so we need to see whether it delivers that.”

TPR plans to begin consultation on the revised DB funding code in March, with the aim of introducing clearer funding standards, making schemes focus on the long-term and managing risks appropriately.

McGlone noted that the majority of respondents had been trustees or professionals supporting trustees, whose views “are more likely to be aligned with those of the regulator”, adding that he expected companies and sponsors to be “more cautious”.

He also commented that smaller schemes, which are expected to be more likely to use Fast Track, “tend to be under-represented at industry events”, before explaining that Fast Track must be simple to use but “not so easy that it fails to provide security”.

McGlone said: “The actual consultation is expected very soon and, in our view, the key thing to look out for will be clear definitions of the two approaches – a number of questions will lead from this. How realistic will it be for large numbers of schemes to achieve Fast Track? And how close to Fast Track will bespoke have to be?

“Finally, how will enforcement of all this work? There were no new powers relating directly to scheme funding in the Pension Schemes Bill, so questions remain on when it is expected to apply and how will it be enforced. Either way, the industry will welcome increased clarity.”

The data was gathered from 300 conference attendees in Manchester and London.

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