The Pensions Authority summary of 2017 regulatory activity and plans for 2018

Tuesday 6 March 2018: Today, the Pensions Authority issues its summary of 2017 regulatory activity and plans for 2018. 

Commenting on the release, the Pensions Regulator, Brendan Kennedy said: “Trustees of occupational pension schemes and PRSA providers have responsibility for over €100 billion of pension savings.  The objective of our supervision and support work is to improve as far as possible the outcomes for pension savers.  In 2017 compliance work continued to focus on our programme of direct engagement with regulated entities which included reviews of scheme governance and administration practices of trustees of both defined benefit (DB) and defined contribution (DC) schemes.”

Misappropriation of pension assets or contributions remains at the top of the Authority’s risk priorities.  The objective is to safeguard members’ savings, but the Authority will prosecute where appropriate.  In 2017, 18 prosecution cases were concluded.  The Authority secured convictions in 11 cases and the remaining cases were struck out due to payment of arrears.  One appeal was concluded and a further matter was re-entered and finalised. 

Throughout 2017, the Authority had ongoing engagement with Registered Administrators (RAs) to ensure the quality and accuracy of pensions data and the reliability of the information provided to members. 

A significant part of the Authority’s technical and policy development work in 2017 was concentrated on preparing for the transposition of the EU Directive on the activities and supervision of institutions for occupational retirement provision (IORPs II) and on the Authority’s pension reform proposals.

The objectives of the Authority’s reform recommendations are as follows:

  • all schemes should be actively managed to a high standard
  • the Authority should be able to oversee the running of schemes to the necessary detail and to intervene where beneficiary interests are under threat
  • pension scheme savers should find it easier to understand the pensions system and should be supported to make the necessary decisions
  • the number of schemes in Ireland should be reduced from the current approximate figure of 160,000 to a medium-term target of 100 - 150 active schemes, to facilitate effective oversight.  A smaller number of larger schemes also offer the chance of better scheme governance, lower costs and better outcomes for members.

Looking ahead, the Authority’s plans for 2018 include:

  • proactive compliance activity including a varied programme of on-site inspections of administrators, scheme administration reviews, reviews of PRSA actuarial reporting and desk compliance audits
  • a continued programme of engagement directly with trustees of both DB and DC schemes
  • engaging with the four defined benefit schemes that do not have a funding proposal in place to enable them meet the funding standard
  • ongoing engagement with RAs to ensure they comply with their administration obligations and submit accurate and complete data on time
  • monitoring pensions activity in the construction sector arising from the Sectoral Employment Order and actively checking compliance by relevant employers and trustees with their obligations under the Pensions Act
  • promoting the information and enquiry services that the Authority provides.

Pensions reform

The Government launched its “Roadmap for Pensions Reform 2018-2023” on Wednesday 28 February 2018.  In welcoming the announcement the Pensions Regulator said: “We will continue to provide assistance to the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection in transposing the IORPS II Directive into Irish law and in implementing the proposed reforms to supplementary pensions.  We are aware that trustees and their advisers need detailed information as soon as possible about their new obligations and we are working with the Department to provide this.  Throughout 2018, we will be actively communicating with the pensions sector and as soon as possible, we will publish draft codes of conduct for trustees.  These codes will build on the guidance we have already produced and this will be a comprehensive statement of what the Authority expects trustees of well-run schemes to do.”

Please see the Related File(s) section of this page for regulatory activity and 2017 outputs at a glance.

-Ends-

For further information, contact:

David Malone

Head of Operations

The Pensions Authority

Tel: (01) 613 1900

Note to Editors

The Pensions Authority is the statutory body established by the Pensions Act, 1990 to regulate occupational pension schemes, trust based RACs and PRSAs.