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OFT recruits board to oversee DC pension audit

THE OFFICE OF FAIR TRADING has appointed leading figures from the pension industry to the board that will oversee the audit of defined contribution (DC) pension schemes.

The OFT recommended an “immediate” review by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) of all high charging and outdated legacy DC arrangements, following an investigation into the DC market last year, according to Financial Director’s sister publication Professional Pensions (PP Online, 19 September).

An Independent Project Board (IPB) has been formed to monitor the review, which is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014. It will be responsible for agreeing the terms of reference, scrutinising results and agreeing industry-level remedies.

Pensions minister Steve Webb, who previously criticised the speed at which the ABI’s review was moving (PP Online, 6 November) said the board appointments were “a significant step in the government’s drive to protect consumers from excessive charges”.

He said: “This audit will give us valuable insight into the charges imposed by legacy pension schemes. The board will bring the skills and experience needed to conduct this important task.”

Independent chairwoman Carol Sergeant will lead the board. Sergeant previously worked as head of major banks’ supervision at the Bank of England, managing director at the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and chief risk officer at Lloyds Banking Group, and has subsequently advised HM Treasury and held a number of non-executive banking directorships.

OFT project leader Ed Smith, who oversaw the research, analysis and report into the DC market, will also join the board.

Leading pensions industry figures, including National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) chief executive Joanne Segars, Association of British Insurers (ABI) chief executive Otto Thoresen, The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) chief executive Michelle Cracknell and Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) president David Hare have been named as board members.

Both pensions regulatory bodies are represented, with The Pensions Regulator (TPR) executive director for defined contribution governance and administration Andrew Warwick-Thompson and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) director of long-term savings and pensions Nick Poyntz-Wright joining the team.

Consultant Doug Taylor, who is member of the Financial Services Consumer Panel, the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA) occupational pensions stakeholder group and National Employment Savings Trust (NEST) members’ panel, will also be part of the panel, in addition to Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) interim head of private pensions Bridget Micklem.

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