TPR bares its teeth and launches new 21st Century governance campaign

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has launched a new campaign to drive up scheme governance standards – and threatened strong action against non-compliant trustee boards.

Called 21st Century Trusteeship – raising the standards of governance, the campaign has been formulated in response to research by TPR that has found that many trustee boards, particularly in small and medium schemes, have failed to act on its codes and guidance to meet standards of good governance.

The watchdog says that the campaign will support smaller-sized schemes to meet standards by being more clear and direct in its language. It outlines how people involved in running schemes can take action to meet expected standards and what action TPR will take if they don’t improve.

As part of the campaign, targeted emails will direct trustees, scheme managers, employers and advisers to a new page on TPR’s website where they will find specific and relevant content that sets out clear standards that TPR expects schemes to meet.

Initially, the campaign will focus on emphasising the fundamental importance of good governance. As it progresses in the coming months, extra content will be added to the website, covering key governance themes such as upskilling and training; managing advisers and providers; and managing conflicts of interest.

TPR acting executive director for regulatory policy Anthony Raymond said: “Good governance is the bedrock of a well-run pension scheme and there is a clear link between good governance and good fund performance. It is not a nice- to-have, but an essential part of effective scheme management – for all schemes.”

Raymond reminded schemes that they should have a skilled and engaged board that is led by an effective chair. They should also have robust risk management in place and good relationships with advisers and third parties.

He added that TPR has set out its intention to be clearer, quicker and tougher earlier this year and that the campaign was a direct reflection of its new focus.

“I would like to see all trustees visit the new campaign web page to ensure they are doing all they can to safeguard their members’ benefits,” Raymond said.

“We are now communicating our expectations more clearly to trustees. Those who fail to respond to our more directive approach may face further regulatory action.”

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