Technical Update

Choosing an adviser for your move to Master Trust

We understand your pension scheme has a lot on its plate. Switching to a master trust should reduce workload, not add to it.

Changes in regulation, and a focus on smaller trust based DC schemes by the Pensions Regulator have generated considerable activity in the DC market, with many smaller DC schemes accelerating their plans to review their position and potentially move to a Master Trust.

Choosing an adviser to help you make the right decisions on the future of your DC scheme should not be undertaken lightly. Based on our experience we have compiled a short list of the areas we feel are most important when considering which adviser should take you through the next phase of your pension development.

What are the three most important elements to look for from your adviser?

1 – Knowledgeable and experienced

The market changes with alarming regularity and strong technical and market knowledge is essential. An in-depth understanding of the regulations, Occupational DC, Group Personal Pension Plans; the Master Trust market, and the risks, considerations, and options available to all stakeholder groups – including the members is important.

Master Trusts may not always be the appropriate solution so your adviser should have the expertise to identify where this is the case and provide the most appropriate solution, not just the most obvious one. However, having just the technical knowledge and expertise is not enough. The appropriate skills and experience of working with all the stakeholder groups will keep the project moving on through any situation that arises. Your adviser should be aware of the different concerns and priorities for each stakeholder group and will work towards making the final outcome a win for Trustees, a win for the Employer, and a win for members.

2 – Independence

Whilst many advisory firms are able to say they do not have their own Master Trust, there are very few who do not provide consultancy services to a Master Trust provider, provide the Master Trust Board with advice, or perhaps even sit on a Master Trust Board.

The Pensions Regulator is keen to see that advice is provided by an independent adviser as this provides reassurance to the Employer, Trustees, and the members that a truly unbiased approach was used in the selection of a new arrangement. A conflict of interest is difficult to overcome, the best way to overcome this is to choose an adviser with no affiliations to an active Master Trust.

3 – Understanding - is your adviser on the same wavelength as you?

Moving to a new Master Trust can be a big project and having an adviser who really understands the objectives, motivations, and challenges involved can really help. Some firms will work very closely with you and become an extension of your team (it’s how we naturally work with our clients at Premier).

Each project team will have a preferred way of working and having an adviser who is in tune with you can make all the difference. Part of this is how your consultant manages the relationships with each of the stakeholder groups. Collaboration is important and managing these relationships to provide support, reassurance and keep the project driving forward relies on your consultant being able to sensitively manage these relationships. Inevitably, the unexpected could happen (a worldwide pandemic for instance), but your adviser should be able to help you and the entire project team through the challenges that crop up, making adjustments to the project plan, timelines, and fees accordingly.

 

If you’d like to get in contact with us to discuss any issue you might have around your master trust transition, including our new Value for Member Assessment service, do not hesitate to get in touch with Sue using the contact details below.

Sue Pemberton

Head of DC Consulting and Technology

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