Pensions Law Review 2016

Author:Mr Stephen Gillick
Profession:Mason Hayes & Curran
 
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Last year signalled a number of forthcoming changes to the regulatory environment for pensions in Ireland. We examine these developments and how they helped shape the pensions landscape in 2016. We also highlight some possible developments likely to occur during 2017.

The Pensions Authority five-year plan

The merger of the offices of the Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman

A halt in the decline of defined benefit pension schemes

2016 saw a number of developments in Ireland which will shape the pensions regulatory landscape for a number of years. The Pensions Authority announced their strategy for the next five years. Further insight was also provided into the amalgamation of the Pensions Ombudsman with the Financial Services Ombudsman and the extension in roles and functions it will entail. Finally, we may have had a watershed moment in the decline of defined benefit pension schemes in Ireland.

The Pensions Authority five-year plan

The Pensions Authority's Statement of Strategy 2016-2020, released in March 2016, set out the Authority's vision, values and strategic objectives. This statement outlined how the Authority envisages its functions and regulations will evolve over the next five years.

The vision is for a pensions environment where pensions savings are secure and well-managed. The Authority will be heavily involved in advancing proposals for pensions reform and simplification. This reform will include proposals to reduce the number of defined contribution pension schemes and proposals on Personal Retirement Savings Accounts.

It remains important for trustees to adopt and maintain good financial management practices and to have processes to identify and mitigate risk within their schemes. Trustees would be advised to assess their own scheme(s), identify any issues relating to the risk priorities and take action to reduce or eliminate those risks. Trustees should also be aware that the Authority has flagged an intention to target those who fail to comply with their legal obligations.

("FSPO")

The new Financial Services and Pensions Ombudsman ("FSPO")

The Irish Government announced plans to amalgamate the offices of the Financial Services Ombudsman and Pensions Ombudsman into the FSPO. The proposals were contained in a draft bill that covers three main areas:

the role and functions of the FSPO; the consumer complaints procedure; and the establishment and operation of the FSPO Council. It details the functions and powers of...

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