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The trustees of hundreds of pension schemes are to be ordered to urgently review the data they hold as part of a crackdown on poor record-keeping.

The Aegon Master Trust has received authorisation from the Pensions Regulator (TPR).


The authorisation process is aimed at raising master trust standards in a fast growing area of the workplace pension market by “a thorough examination of scheme’s capabilities in areas such as their systems and processes, financial sustainability and fit and proper requirements for those exerting control over master trusts”.
 
Following authorisation, master trusts will need to have business plans, continuity strategies and access to ring-fenced assets to protect members’ benefits should a trust be wound up.
 
Aegon’s master trust was acquired as part of the acquisition of BlackRock’s Defined Contribution and administration business.

The master trust formally became Aegon Master Trust (AMT) in July 2018 and is a growing part of Aegon’s workplace business.

 

The Aegon Master Trust has £1.5bn total assets under management (AUM), more than 100,000 members and over 85 participating employers. 
 
Ian Pittaway, chair of Aegon Master Trust said: “The Trustees of the Aegon Master Trust are absolutely delighted that Aegon’s commitment to the master trust has been recognised through gaining authorisation.

“I look forward to the continued progress in this market, and the Aegon Master Trust playing its part.

“I am sure there are lots of exciting developments ahead which will improve the financial outcomes for members.” 
 
Kate Smith, head of Master Trust at Aegon UK, is responsible for leading the development of Aegon’s master trust proposition including the authorisation process.

She said: “It’s been exciting to see how the new and improved master trusts market has been shaping up over the last few months and we are delighted that the Aegon Master Trust has joined the line-up of those authorised. 
 
“Raised standards among master trusts means greater protection for members of all master trusts, something I have been calling for over many years.

“As supervision starts to kick in master trust standards will have to continue to be maintained to retain authorisation.” 
 
She added: “As confidence in the master trusts market continues to grow, we look forward to working with more employers in the future and supporting members on their journey to retirement and beyond.”

A company director is to be prosecuted by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) for failing to provide information and documents requested as part of an ongoing investigation.


Michael Woolley was asked to provide information about investments made by company Southbank Capital Limited, of which he is both a director and a shareholder.

The investments related to money and/or assets originating from 16 pension schemes for which PIM Trustees Limited is the trustee.

 

Mr Woolley is the sole director and a shareholder of the professional trustee firm.
 
He was accused of failing to comply with a notice issued under section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004 that required the information and documents to be provided by 12 February 2019.
 
Mr Woolley has been summonsed to appear at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on 13 November to face a charge of neglecting or refusing to provide information and documents, without a reasonable excuse, when required to do so under section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004, contrary to section 77(1) of that Act.
 
The case continues.

The Pensions Regulator has fined a firm £350,000 for failing to fully comply with its pension duties.

The FCA and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) are joining forces again this summer to warn the public about fraudsters targeting people’s retirement savings - as they revealed up to five million were at risk from scammers. 


The alert came as new research suggested that 42% of pension savers, which would equate over five million people across the UK, could be at risk of falling for at least one of six common tactics used by pension scammers.

The likelihood of being drawn into one or more scams increased to 60% among those who said they were actively looking for ways to boost their retirement income.

Pension cold-calls, free pension reviews, claims of guaranteed high returns, exotic investments, time-limited offers and early access to cash before the age of 55 could all tempt savers into risking their retirement income, the regulators said.

The research also found that those who considered themselves smart or financially savvy were just as likely to be persuaded by these tactics as anyone else.

Pension savers were tempted by offers of high returns in investments such as overseas property, renewable energy bonds, forestry, storage units or biofuels.

However, exotic or unusual investments were described as “high-risk and unlikely to be suitable for pension savings”.

Nearly a quarter (23%) of the 45 to 65-year-olds questioned said they would be likely to pursue these exotic opportunities if offered to them.

Helping savers to access their pensions early also proved to be a persuasive scam tactic.

One in six (17%) 45 to 54-year-old pension savers said they would be interested in an offer from a company that claimed it could help them get early access to their pension.

However, accessing pension cash before 55 is likely to result in a large tax bill for the saver.

23% of all those surveyed said they would talk with a cold-caller that wanted to discuss their pension plans, despite the Government’s ban on pension cold-calls this January.

Nearly a quarter said they would ask for website details, request further information or find out what they were offering, even if the call came out of the blue.

Victims of pension fraud reported in 2018 that they had lost an average of £82,000.

The regulators issued a statement that read: “Pension fraud can be devastating, as victims can lose their life savings and be left facing retirement with limited income.

“As a result, the regulators are joining forces to urge pension savers to be ScamSmart and to check who they are dealing with before making any decision on their pension.

“Last year’s ScamSmart campaign resulted in more than 3,705 people being warned about unauthorised firms.

“This year’s campaign is currently running on TV, radio and online.”

Guy Opperman MP, Minister for Pensions and Financial Inclusion, said: “Pensions are one of the largest and most important investments we’ll ever make, and robbing someone of their retirement is nothing short of despicable.”

“We know we can beat these callous crooks, because getting the message out there does work.

“Last year’s pension scams awareness campaign prevented hundreds of people from losing as much as £34 million, and I’m backing this year’s effort to be bigger and better as we build a generation of savvy savers.”

Mark Steward, executive director of enforcement and market oversight at the FCA, said: “It doesn’t matter the size of your pension pot – scammers are after your savings.

“Get to know the warning signs, and before making any decision about your pension, be ScamSmart and check you are dealing with an FCA authorised firm.”

Nicola Parish, executive director of frontline regulation at TPR, said: “Scammers don’t care who they prey on or how many lives they wreck.

“If you ignore the warning signs you put yourself at risk of losing your savings.

“Victims are left devastated by what has happened to them.

“Make sure neither you nor any of your loved ones have to go through that ordeal.”

The Pensions Regulator has called for small pension schemes to quit the market after new research findings.
The Pensions Regulator says it will target 'rogue' advisers after uncovering evidence that some are helping employers change identity to avoid their auto-enrolment obligations.
The new chief executive of The Pensions Regulator (TPR), Charles Counsell has set out how he will lead the organisation and vowed ‘robust protection’ for savers.
The Pensions Regulator has revealed 39 firms have applied for master trust authorisation.
A corporate professional trustee firm has been fined £103,750 for breaching multiple areas of pension law.
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