Master Trust Authorisation Process Attracts 38 Applications

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The UK’s Pensions Regulator (TPR) has received 38 authorisation applications from defined contribution (DC) master trusts as the extension period for authorisation ends.

TPR revealed yesterday that, of the 10 schemes it had granted an extension to, eight had filed an application, with one scheme no longer meeting the definition of a master trust, while the other scheme decided not to apply for authorisation.

The deadline for master trust submissions for authorisation was 31 March, but schemes could request a six-week extension from the regulator.

Kim Brown, head of master trust authorisation and supervision at TPR, said: “We now have the final number of applications for existing master trusts and we will be continuing to assess these applications over the coming months.

“Once authorised, master trusts will immediately be supervised by us. The supervision of authorised master trusts is vital to ensure the new standards imposed in this market are not only demonstrated to us as part of the application process but also continue to be met in the future.”

Six master trusts have already been granted authorisation, the latest of which was the DC section of the Universities Superannuation Scheme. Two trusts run by Legal & General (L&G), Willis Towers Watson’s LifeSight offering, and the Crystal Trust and BlueSky Pension Scheme – both administered by Evolve Pensions – are the others to have secured authorisation.

Mark Futcher, partner and head of DC at Barnett Waddingham, said: “The most interesting aspect of the authorisation process will be those master trusts that do not receive authorisation. 

“We would expect a number of casualties from this list of 38; the industry knows there are still some poorly run master trusts out there – some still have historic errors to rectify.”

He added: “On an ongoing basis, we would expect the bar to rise which would mean some master trusts winding up in the future.”

Those schemes that fail to meet the application deadline will be forced to exit the market. Last year, TPR estimated that 30 providers could exit the market, including some as a result of mergers.

In a blog on the TPR website, Brown said for those schemes leaving the market that “we continue to oversee the process and ensure trustees are taking the right steps to protect savers when they are moved to an alternative arrangement”.