Defined contribution (DC)

DC schemes are now the principal form of retirement savings for new employees with over 15 million people enrolled in a workplace pension.

The move from individual employer-run schemes towards large scale multi-employer trusts is having far-reaching implications for the DC universe.

We are seeing an increasing emphasis on regulation and control, with a raft of new statutory obligations and proactive engagement from TPR. With these changes, the government is seeking to improve both governance standards and member outcomes.

Key themes for the next 12 months will include:

  • consumer protection and empowerment through increased disclosure obligations and the introduction of the pensions dashboards
  • consolidation – we expect TPR to continue to promote consolidation for smaller schemes and may even see a statutory requirement for it to be considered triennially by certain trustees
  • investment governance – the management of DC default arrangements is a key area of focus for TPR. Schemes need to address the new requirements for SIPs and investment disclosure
  • the return of CDC – once the Royal Mail scheme is in operation, the DWP will work with interested parties to develop a framework for other CDC arrangements, such as decumulation-only vehicles and DC master trusts
  • ongoing compliance – standing items such as the annual report, the chair’s annual governance statement and keeping on top of TKU must not be forgotten.

We are the leading law firm for DC, delivering practical legal advice to trustees and employers which draws on our experience and expertise.

We advise a broad range of DC schemes, including some of the UK’s largest trust-based schemes on the full range of DC matters, from one-off innovative projects to day-to-day scheme management.

Our DC clients include:

  • trustees and employers of occupational trust based DC schemes
  • providers of contract-based workplace and personal pension arrangements on all aspects of their pension provision
  • Independent Governance Committees tasked with assessing value for money for workplace and retail investors
  • master trust trustees and their sponsors from a variety of different types of master trust.

We also help clients to move their DC arrangements to master trusts and contract-based schemes, and wind up their old DC arrangements.

This means that we have a unique insight into the perspective of all key players.

Recent experience

  • Establishing new DC occupational pension schemes, preparing their rules, member communications and third party contracts
  • Advising trustees, sponsors and employers on master trust authorisation and other issues arising from the Pension Schemes Act 2017
  • Advising a range of stakeholders on exit from the master trust market
  • Advising trustees, sponsors and employers on supervision of master trusts
  • Advising DC trustees, sponsors and employers on the implications of COVID-19 on various matters, for example: closure and suspension of DC funds, administration, impact on auto-enrolment duties, AVCs, transfers out and forthcoming retirements, changes to business continuity arrangements
  • Advising providers of trust and contract-based arrangements on changes to investment strategies / investment platforms on a “without consent” basis
  • Advising on changes to retirement options, including flexible retirement and partial transfer policies
  • Introducing changes to benefits such as auto-enrolment, reductions in future service accrual, and bulk transfers / scheme mergers.
  • Advising on investment fund reviews, mapping across to new funds, and related member communications
  • Advising on security of asset issues associated with DC platform providers and AVC policies
  • Advising a number of major DC schemes on retirement option projects, including master trust bolt-ons
  • Advising IGC and providers of contract-based workplace and personal pensions on new requirements on investment pathways and ESG.