Six principles for good workplace DC
The Pensions Regulator will invite the pensions sector to take part in a dialogue on six principles for good design and governance of workplace defined contribution (DC) pension provision, which will form the basis of its regulatory approach going forward.
Publication of the high-level principles is the next step in the regulator’s ongoing engagement with the pensions sector to improve standards of DC provision and ensure that the pensions sector is ready to support automatic enrolment.
The six principles span the lifecycle of a DC scheme from the design and set-up phases through to the ongoing management – including monitoring of scheme governance, accountability, scheme administration, and communications with members.
The six principles for good design and governance of workplace DC schemes are as follows:
Principle 1 – Schemes are designed to be durable, fair and deliver good outcomes for members
This principle covers the features necessary in a scheme to deliver good outcomes for members, including features such as the provision of a suitable default fund, transparent costs and charges, protected assets and sufficient protection for members against loss of their savings.
Principle 2 – A comprehensive scheme governance framework is established at set-up, with clear accountabilities and responsibilities agreed and made transparent.
This includes identifying key activities which need to be carried out, and ensuring each of the activities has an ‘owner’ who has the necessary resources to carry out the activity.
Principle 3 – Those who are accountable for scheme decisions and activity understand their duties and are fit and proper to carry them out.
This principle ensures that those who are given accountability or responsibility for a key governance task are able to carry this out. The principle will cover definitions of fitness and propriety for accountable parties and also conflicts of interest that may arise.
Principle 4 – Schemes benefit from effective governance and monitoring through their full lifecycle.
This principle looks at the ongoing governance and running of the scheme, including the internal controls and monitoring needed to ensure that the scheme continues to meet its objectives, and continues to be run with the best interests of its membership in mind.
Principle 5 – Schemes are well-administered with timely, accurate and comprehensive processes and records.
This principle is informed by our previous work on record keeping, looking specifically at the administration processes required in a DC scheme.
Principle 6 – Communication to members is designed and delivered to ensure members are able to make informed decisions about their retirement savings.
This includes all communications to members during their time with the scheme – from joining through to making decisions about converting their pension pot into a retirement income, including promotion of the Open Market Option. Principles 1 to 3 are all relevant at scheme set up and therefore are most relevant to product and service providers and those advising employers on scheme selection. Principles 4 to 6 cover those activities which are likely to remain relevant through the life of a scheme and therefore could involve all parties included in scheme provision, including providers, administrators, trustees, employers and even members.
The regulator believes that if schemes follow these principles in their design, set-up and ongoing operations it will help them to deliver the six elements necessary for members to receive good outcomes, which we have previously identified:
Appropriate decisions with regards pension contributions.
Appropriate investment decisions.
Efficient and effective administration of DC schemes.
Protection of scheme assets.
Value for money.
Appropriate decisions on converting pension savings into a retirement income.