The 2012 Report on Pension Charges undertaken by my Department, working with the Central Bank and the Pensions Authority, was the first comprehensive Government report on this subject. Since publication, a range of measures have been taken to deliver on the report’s recommendations and work in this regard continues. For example, in line with the recommendation that the implementation of the Consumer Protection Code should be monitored, the Central Bank has undertaken a number of themed reviews aimed at ensuring this is the case. This includes a review of new requirements for annual pension statements introduced in 2012 which requires that information on charges be provided in a way that seeks to inform the customer. The review found that the vast majority of firms were in compliance with the code. Where the Bank identified a small number of firms where the format of annual statements was not as required, those concerned were required to submit implementation timelines for full compliance.
In parallel, my Department is involved in complementary EU negotiations on a review of the IORPs (Institutions for Occupational Retirement Provision) Directive which lays down basic requirements for occupational pensions. It is anticipated that final provisions will result in improved consistency of information to scheme members in pension benefit statements including transparency of charges.
In terms of support to trustees of occupational pension schemes, the Pension’s Authority is in the process of enhancing its e-learning website for trustee training which will include material on pension charges. It is also updating the Trustee Handbook and expects to publish the new handbook, which will contain a chapter on pension charges, in the near future.
Finally, the role of the new Pensions Council is to provide advice on pensions and to give a much stronger prominence to consumer concerns. I have previously highlighted that there a number of specific matters which I want the Council to focus on and this includes the area of pension charges which, following its recent establishment, the Council has now begun to consider.