Outcome-focused regulation right across pensions

TPR issues update to joint regulatory strategy.

I’m going to let you in on a not very well-kept secret… while we as regulators appreciate the reasons for our different frameworks, pension savers don’t care who regulates them. They just want to know that when they save: a) their money is secure and b) that they get value for every penny invested.

Those principles have guided our work with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) over the four years since the publication of our joint regulatory strategy.

Four years in which we have seen savers increase their retirement savings (up 30% in assets per member over three years) and find out how to protect themselves from harm through our joint ScamSmart campaigns.

But also, four years in which we have been hit with a global pandemic, faced war tragically returning to Europe and seen the return of high inflation and higher interest rates and a cost of living crisis.

These threats to our personal and financial wellbeing reinforce the need for savers to be at the heart of what we do.

And so, I want to make a promise to savers. Whatever pension scheme you are saving into, FCA and TPR will do our very best to protect you from harm and ensure your scheme seeks to deliver real value for your investments.

The only way we can make good on this promise is continued and deepened collaborative working with our closest partner, the FCA.

That’s why today, together with the FCA, I’m pleased to publish an update to our joint regulatory strategy. This sets out how we will continue to work together to deliver good outcomes for pension savers regardless of their pension type.

It outlines eight joint workstreams – broad strategic areas that are drawing out our current and future focus. These include:

  • productive finance – a focus on long-term value
  • value for money
  • a regulatory framework for effective stewardship
  • a pension scams strategy
  • DB transfer advice
  • DB schemes and transfer activity
  • pensions dashboards
  • supporting consumer decision-making throughout the pensions consumer journey

Crucially, the update also sets out the outcomes that we wish to deliver through our work as we work to make sure pension savers get security, value and support from the pensions system.

Yes, we have very different markets. One commercialised and relatively concentrated. The other made up of thousands of schemes of varying sizes.

Yes, the kinds of savers we may protect can sometimes be different. And yes, those differences may mean that the approaches we take as regulators vary in scope or application.

But both of us always seek to put the pension saver at the heart of what we do. That means being conscious of working together where possible to ensure the right protection for savers, schemes and providers.

In practice, where appropriate, that involves us:

  1. Jointly assessing risks and harms – for example, from pension scams and our work together in the Pension Scams Action Group.
  2. Joining up on cross sector initiatives – such as helping to develop pensions dashboards and creating a framework for the assessment of value for money.
  3. Issuing joint communications to have maximum impact – for example, acting swiftly and clearly to issue joint proactive communications around DB transfer concerns.

It can be hard to predict where threats to good saver outcomes can come from and sadly, we won’t always be able to protect all savers from harm all of the time.

But by delivering a coherent regulatory framework between the two bodies responsible for pensions, and working effectively with schemes and providers, we give ourselves the best possible chance.

By Sarah Smart, Non-Executive Chair