PA Annual Conference 2020: TPR expects to publish consolidated trustee code by November

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is expecting to share its consolidated modular code to clarify industry standards by November, TPR head of policy, Fiona Frobisher, has confirmed.

Speaking at the Pensions Age Annual Conference 2020, Frobisher stated that the regulator was "hopeful" that the code would be consulted on later this year, with trustee standards “much more clearly defined”.

She explained that when rewriting the code to include greater governance requirements and environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, the regulator had taken the opportunity to look at how it could make the code “better and clearer for everybody”.

TPR previously confirmed plans for a consolidated modular code earlier this year, with Frobisher now revealing that 10 codes have already been consolidated into between 50 and 70 modules, with each module about 2 pages long.

The new format aims allow trustees who are unsure of a standard to more easily find answers via a specific module, instead of having to “wade through” a 40 page code of practice to find it.

Other areas that the regulator has considered under this initiative to provide clarity includes ESG and climate risk, and issues around trustee knowledge and understanding.

In addition to this, Frobisher stated that the regulator is particular keen to pick up further work on diversity and inclusion after "70 or 80" industry organisations came forward looking to support such campaigns, arguing that to “not capitalise on that would be such a wasted opportunity”.

"Underlying this focus on clarity around standards is a focus on consolidation”, she added, explaining that the regulator wants to be “very clear” around expectations, to enable schemes, particularly smaller schemes, to better assess whether they can meet these expectations.

She noted that this "chimes very much" with the government's recent consultation, which proposes for smaller schemes to be expected to initiate wind up and consolidate if they do not offer sufficient value to members.

Frobisher clarified that whilst the majority of new members are joining DC schemes, particularly master trusts, the “vast majority of money and support” is in DB schemes, and as a result they remain “an incredibly important part of our world”.

She added that there has been strong industry participation and engagement with the DB funding code, with a "record-breaking" first consultation, looking at the principles around the code and how the fast track and bespoke structures would work.

Frobisher revealed that a webinar run as part of this consultation had over 600 attendees, whilst the response itself has already received over 113 responses, with more than a dozen still expected, compared to the previous record of 114 responses to the regulator's trusteeship consultation.

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