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Board meeting summary March 2022

A summary of The Pensions Regulator (TPR) Board meeting in March 2022.

Apologies and welcomes

The Chair welcomed everybody to the meeting, including the Chief Executive Officer of the Pension Protection Fund. Apologies had been received from Non-Executive Director (NED) Robert Herga.

Declarations of conflicts of interest

No declarations had been received in advance or were made at the meeting.

Chair’s update

The Chair had met with the Minister for Pensions (MfP) and discussed the NED candidates; she was confident a good mix of NEDs would be joining TPR. The MfP would make recommendations to the Secretary of State; it was hoped that the new NEDs would be in place by May.

Chris Morson had been reappointed as chair of the Audit and Risk Committee (ARAC) until 2024, for the duration of his term of office.

The Chair of ARAC provided an update from the recent (2 March 2022) ARAC meeting. Highlights included the news that the external audit was now in train, and that the internal audit team was now at full strength and a number of reports received.

CEO report

The Board received an update on TPR’s accommodation strategy, and on the phased transition to hybrid working.

TPR has published guidance for trustees on economic uncertainty relating to the Ukraine conflict. The Board was updated on discussions with HMT on the practicalities of disinvestment from Russia by financial institutions including pension schemes.

TPR had been working with the Secretary of State’s officials on preparations for the Year of the Trustee.

The Board was updated with progress on the notifiable events regulations and code.

The Minister for Pensions had acknowledged the need to make sure that potential harms from performance fees were mitigated.

The Online Harms Bill would now incorporate financial scams, with a new legal duty on the largest social media platforms / search engines to prevent fraudulent adverts. A public consultation would be held on online advertising.

The third part of the Work and Pensions Select Committee hearing into financial freedoms was under way and TPR had been called to give evidence in June alongside the Money and Pensions Service and the Financial Conduct Authority.

EVRI (formerly Hermes) would be enrolling their people into a pension scheme, and Uber would be paying backdated contributions.

Corporate plan update 2022 to 2024 — review of proposed structure and measurement framework

TPR was due to publish its corporate plan (CP), which would cover the remaining two years of the 21 to 24 period, towards the end of May. Board agreed a new set of saver outcomes last September and they helped to set out the narrative journey of TPR’s activity and understand progress being made towards achieving them over time.

The Board was asked for its thoughts on the proposed structure of the CP, and to confirm support for the way in which the measurement framework had been built. Approval of the final proposed corporate plan draft and measurement framework would be sought from Board in May.

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)

The FCA’s Executive Director of Markets joined the meeting to talk about her experience of the FCA bringing together its supervision, policy and competition functions, and the cultural and strategic change involved. She emphasised the importance of TPR and FCA working together collaboratively and with others. She also noted that the FCA would be issuing their three year strategy in April, which would set out their areas of focus and how they would measure progress.

The Board noted that TPR and FCA had published a joint strategy a few years ago. It was suggested that this should be reviewed after the FCA had completed its own strategy, as it would demonstrate to the regulated community our shared determination to work together in specific areas.

Board effectiveness review implementation plan

The Board reviews its effectiveness yearly, with an external review commissioned every third year, most recently in 2021. Independent audit had presented their report to the Board in December, and the Chair had used their recommendations as the basis for an action plan with suggestions around a number of subjects including Board activity organisation. The Board discussed and agreed the proposed actions.    

Evaluating communications activity

The Board received a paper presentation that aimed to provide assurance that TPR evaluated its campaigns in a robust and consistent way using the GCS Evaluation Framework and planned them using the OASIS framework