The power of three is celebrated around the world as a way of grabbing and holding people’s attention.
Whether it be Julius Caesar’s Veni, Vidi, Vici, Tony Blair’s Education, Education, Education or even the Stop, Look, Listen of the Green Cross Code, the use of three little words can be a great tool to focus on what you want to achieve.
At The Pensions Regulator (TPR) we have our own three little words that we live by – clearer, quicker and tougher, or CQT for short. They underpin the way we think and the way we act to protect savers.
The publication of our latest quarterly Compliance and Enforcement bulletin sums up succinctly how we are living and breathing that mantra.
One of the centrepieces of this bulletin is the issuing of one of the largest fines we have given to an employer, after it failed to comply with the law despite repeated warnings from us. It is rare for us to have to impose a fine of even tens of thousands of pounds so for this large employer to have caused itself to accrue a £350,000 fine – on top of the cost of giving the staff affected the workplace pensions they were entitled to – is extraordinary.
In the quarter we also replaced incompetent trustees, approved four clearance applications in relation to DB schemes and our new one-to-one supervision regime has begun driving improvements in the way even well-run schemes are governed.
Our positive approach has not gone unnoticed. Sir David Metcalf, the Government’s Director of Labour Market Enforcement, praised the guidance and tools that we produce for employers and advisers as an example of good practice that other regulators should copy.
An independent survey of some of the UK’s top pension lawyers found that 8 out of 10 believe CQT is hitting home with their clients – in particular our demand for pension contributions to get a bigger slice of company profits in comparison with dividends.
In recent days there has also been positive media coverage about our use of section 72 notices to get the information we need for our investigations. We’ll continue to prosecute those who try to obstruct us.
Those three little words underline all this and we will continue to be clearer, quicker and tougher.
By Charles Counsell