OPDU Annual Meeting held at Reed Smith - 28 January 2016
The regulatory objective: “Better outcomes in later life for savers”
Speaking at OPDU’s annual meeting, Mark Boyle, Chair of the Pensions Regulator said that 2015 had been an extraordinary and tumultuous year for pensions which had required the regulator to react quickly and effectively. It was unlikely that 2016 would be a quieter year, with potentially significant changes to the tax treatment of pensions due to be announced in the Chancellor’s budget on 16 March.
Mark covered three key areas in his address:
- the 21st century trustee; what the regulator’s expectations were and how it planned to assist with training and support;
- the wider pensions environment; with the long-term nature of pension schemes meaning that the majority were better able to deal with stressed conditions. The regulator also planned more engaged discussion with the regulated community, setting clearer expectations with a more confident voice; and
- the priorities for the year ahead. These included the automatic enrolment of workers into a pension scheme with half a million employers required to provide pensions for the first time; education and sufficiency of savings levels; and the expectations of certain behaviours and activities for defined contribution schemes.
In summary, the regulatory objective was to achieve better outcomes in later life for savers.
Mark was followed by Chris Curry, a director of the Pensions Policy Institute, a small research based charity with the aim of allowing people to make an informed choice. Chris focussed on the impact of pension reform and what it will mean for employers who had been the driving force for pension provision in the last forty to fifty years. He believed that a number of the reforms may have a fundamental impact on this relationship. In particular, Chris highlighted:
- reforms affecting funded local government schemes;
- freedom and choice when taking benefits which gave employers a little less control of their workforce;
- insufficiency of saving with the likelihood of people working for longer; and
- any potential changes for National Insurance contribution relief on employers’ pension contributions.
Although reforms were targeted at individuals, there were a number of ways employers could be affected and therefore it was important that the views of employers were considered.
Earlier, Martin Kellaway, OPDU’s Executive Director had welcomed OPDU members and a cross-section of the pensions community to the meeting, introducing Terry Faulkner the chair of OPDU’s Advisory Council.
Terry highlighted notable developments in the last twelve months which included the merger of lead underwriter ACE with Chubb which had resulted in a significant increase in the primary layer of cover available, with OPDU able to facilitate excess layers of cover where required. Lifetime cover had also been made available for wind-up and discontinuance cover for the first time and a forthcoming development was the inclusion as an option of missing beneficiary cover.
Terry concluded his review by reporting that 15 new members had joined during the year and also took the opportunity to highlight trends in claims and notifications.
Following a lively question and answer session, a reception was held with Reed Smith’s offices showcasing the ever changing London skyline.