Financial watchdog’s pension plan hit by fellow regulator

The Financial Conduct Authority, scourge of wrongdoing in the City of London, has fallen foul of a fellow UK watchdog, with its staff pension plan coming under fire from The Pensions Regulator.

The FCA has been fined £2,000 by the TPR for not providing enough detail in a statement for members on how well their scheme is governed.

Chair of the plan’s trustees is Sarah Hogg, a former chair of the Financial Reporting Council and presently non-executive director of the FCA board.

The FCA’s pension plan appeared in an online list published by the TPR of schemes it had fined in the third quarter of 2019 for compliance failures.

Trustees of the FCA pension plan were issued with the maximum penalty of £2,000 for failing to provide enough detail in a 2018 chair’s statement for thousands of members of the money-purchase plan.

“The FCA pension plan did not comply with the law because it did not include all of the information that it should have,” the TPR said.

“We will take action against the trustee of any scheme which fails to comply with the chair’s statement requirements.”

The fine was levied against the trustees of the money-purchase section of the pension plan but paid for by the FCA.

The FCA said shortcomings with the 2018 governance statement for the scheme were picked up by its counterpart watchdog as it reviewed a request by the pension plan for master trust authorisation.

TPR ruled the 2018 chair’s governance statement should have provided more detail about historical costs and charges levied by fund managers used by the scheme, as well as more detail about training members taken by trustee board members to keep their skills on scheme documentation up to date.

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The FCA said: “The FCA pension plan trustee has apologised to members of the plan, and reviewed systems and processes to ensure all the required information is available to members and the 2019 governance statement (provided in October) was fully compliant.”

The TPR has the power to publish more details of the reasons it fines or takes other action against employers and schemes. However, the regulator declined to provide further details of its case against the FCA’s pension plan, which has 19,000 members in total, including those in a final salary-style section.

The problems for the FCA came as the watchdog was facing increasing criticism over its policing of the £80bn defined-benefit pension transfer market.

On Saturday the Financial Times reported that the FCA had mis-selling concerns about almost 80 per cent of advisers who had provided final-salary pension transfer advice.

The fine against the FCA’s pension plan also came a year after the regulator and the FCA agreed to strengthen their relationship with the publication of a joint strategy on pensions.



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