It is not an exaggeration to say that the workplace pensions industry is in a time of unprecedented change. Auto-enrolment, personal accounts and the retail distribution review are approaching fast and each brings its own challenges.
Combined, they mean that the countdown to 2012 will be a time of intense self-analysis for providers and advisers alike.
The FSA has brought workplace pensions within the scope of the RDR more than two years after launching the review. It is currently digesting the responses to the quick consultation it issued at the beginning of the summer, mulling how to make the square peg of business to business workplace pensions fit into the round hole that is the individual-centric RDR. In the process, it is laying bare the fiction that has grown up over years that GPPs and group stakeholders are simply groups of individual arrangements.
This supplement, published in association with Aviva, reports on a round table held last month to discuss many of the challenges facing pensions intermediaries and providers. How to find new ways to remunerate advisers in situations where employers will simply not pay a fee; how advisers can satisfy any new regulations akin to RU64 that may be introduced; how the private sector creates a differentiated offering to the real and formidable threat that personal accounts may turn out to be; what employees should be told when auto-enrolment becomes mandatory; how default funds should be constructed.
While 2012 had seemed a long way away when the current set of pensions reforms were put in train, it now feels just round the corner. It is clear that the industry is at an early stage in its own thinking on many of these issues, although the delegates at the round table have eloquently highlighted many of the key issues, and in some cases put forward sensible solutions.
Sharpening these views is essential if successful lobbying is to shape the workplace pension environment in a way that allows the private sector to flourish, continuing to serve British companies and their employees with quality, well-funded, well-managed pension schemes.
The industry has much to lose in the coming months as the regulatory framework is finalised. We need to demonstrate to government and regulators how private pensions really serve the nation’s workforce.
John Greenwood, Editor