Aries monitors every development in new and proposed legislation and official guidance.   Clients are kept up to date via the website, email alerts and tweets.   Aries serves as a one-stop source of intelligence on everything that is going on and coming up.   Aries doesn't miss anything of significance.

Here is a selection from our most recent headlines. You can get the fuller details by sending us an email - just click here to fire one off.

The Government has stated that it will consult later in 2019 on proposals to:

  • improve competition in financial advice services used by trustees of both defined contribution (DC) and defined benefit (DB) pension schemes;
  • ensure better disclosure of fees and performance;
  • encourage closer trustee engagement when buying such services; and

  • enable more effective monitoring of compliance by The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

The stems from a Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) investigation into investment strategy advice accessed by pension schemes, which found trustees were often denied clear information which would help them when weighing up options – hitting retirement incomes.

The CMA recommended that the DWP

pass the necessary legislation to enable the Pensions Regulator (TPR) to oversee the duties on trustees. Correspondence from the DWP, HM Treasury and TPR accepts the recommendation. Regulations will be introduced, insofar as they apply to trustees, into the main body of pensions law.

As well as allowing TPR to more effectively monitor compliance, it will . . .

15 Mar 2019  

With the passing of the submission date for queries to the Scheme Reconciliation Service (SRS), HMRC accepts that pension scheme administrators are likely to continue to have questions. As a result, Countdown Bulletins will continue, at least until scheme financial reconciliation activity is complete: the countdown to countdown bulletin extinction begins.

Despite this, HMRC managed to publish two Countdown Bulletins in less than a week! Countdown Bulletin 44 details

"expected changes" to dates for Scheme Financial Reconciliation: CB 42 noted that HMRC expected to send financial reconciliation letters to schemes in deficit from the week commencing 15 April 2019, these will now start arriving from 1 April 2019 - in order to give administrators more time to make the payment. The deadline for payment remains 21 May 2019.

Countdown Bulletin 43 notes the introduction of two SRS process changes:

  • It has worked to categorise similar types of queries from multiple file submissions so that they can be worked clerically on a bulk basis.

  • As the final SRS outputs will confirm individual Guaranteed Minimum Pension (GMP) amounts, no GMP amounts will be provided on returned clerical query templates.
  • . . .

09 Mar 2019  

The Financial Guidance and Claims Act 2018 (Naming and Consequential Amendments) Regulations 2019 (SI 2019/383) come into force from 6 April 2019 and name the Single Financial Guidance Body (SFGB): the Money and Pensions Service (MAPS).

The words 'advice' and 'guidance' were rightly eschewed here. However, one issue might require attention.

SI 2019/383 amends regulation 2(1) of

The Occupational Pension Schemes (Internal Dispute Resolution Procedures Consequential and Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/649), which concerns the opening of a dispute under an internal dispute resolution procedure (IDRP) and informing the applicant that the Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) is available to assist members and beneficiaries with resolution.

The amendment replaces all references

to 'TPAS' in Reg 2(1) SI 2008/649 with 'MAPS'. However, the dispute resolution function of TPAS moved to the Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) in the spring of 2018. The Government has previously acknowledged that legislation needed to be amended, as we noted last September. Essentially, schemes can choose to signpost to TPO in advance of the changes being made, without fear that TPR would consider this to be a . . .

08 Mar 2019  

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has commenced a period of consultation on proposed rules to require scheme governance bodies to disclose costs and charges information on an ongoing basis to members of contract-based DC schemes.

The proposals are applicable to those involved in FCA-regulated relevant schemes within the defined contribution (DC) workplace pensions market. The FCA's proposals mirror the approach and

definitions DWP used in making their regulations in February 2018 for publishing and disclosing costs and charges information about workplace occupational pension schemes, regulated by TPR.

Section 137FA of the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA) places a duty on the FCA to make rules requiring information to be published about some or all administration charges and some or all transaction costs about a relevant

scheme. The proposals will achieve this by requiring firms to ensure that scheme governance bodies:

    1. set out information about the transaction costs and the administration charges (as defined at COBS 19.8.1) imposed on scheme members, for each default arrangement and each alternative fund option that the member . . .

08 Mar 2019  

A month earlier than last year, the Pensions Regulator (TPR) has published its annual funding statement for defined benefit (DB) schemes. It's a noteworthy publication for all DB trustees and sponsoring employers; but particularly for those schemes with valuation dates between 22 September 2018 and 21 September 2019, or those reviewing funding during a period of significant change.

TPR expects trustees to consider:

  • Long-term funding targets: successful schemes appear to involve trustees and employers agreeing a clear long-term strategy, recognising that the balance of investment risk, contributions and covenant support may change over time.

  • Balancing risks: integrated risk management should focus on the employer covenant, investment risks

and scheme funding plans, taking account of the ever-changing state of scheme maturity.

The statement highlights the factors TPR considers when assessing a scheme's risk profile and provides several - non-exhaustive ,yet detailed - tables of key risks and what actions it expects of trustees and employers. Unlike last year, these tables take account of different . . .

07 Mar 2019