Once upon a time pensions were relatively simple. People had a pension scheme through their employer, or the state catered for their needs. The Self-employed had retirement accounts, often containing guarantees. Then life became complicated. Pension providers, trustees and employers consulted lawyers, and legislation was passed. Personal pensions underwent a revolution, and the sector was dogged by scandals including pension transfers, Robert Maxwell and the Mirror Group pension fund, and Equitable Life. Nowadays criminal offences for risking accrued scheme benefits and not paying employer debts to pension scheme on time are issues to avoid.
In 2006 pensions went through a simplification exercise, and since then there has been further legislation, and further court cases establishing what simplification meant.
Since “A-Day” in 2006, pensions have been regulated by HMRC and the FCA. Risks and issues have led to questions for lawyers to answer on establishing, operating, and administering pension products and pension schemes. Creating pension products involves risk, as does investing through pension arrangements.
Legal risk is managed whenever pensions regulation complexity, pension scheme investment, unauthorised payments and the contractual nexus supporting pension schemes are considered. This makes for a kaleidoscopic regulatory framework for the pension professional to take into account.
Occasionally this means pension professionals find that they might have done things better and have to respond to regulator scrutiny, or face up to the pension’s ombudsmen, FOS, or the courts.
Vialex Head of Financial Services, Scott Moncur, has years of practical experience gained within the industry. Scott learned his craft at major pension providers and has seen issues in pension schemes set up since the 1950’s. He was immersed in defined benefit design and regulation, saw the first “e” pensions through to market, the rise of SIPP and premature demise of SSAS, and then the pension wrapper within platforms. Since then, the work place pension has taken over from the old school occupational pension scheme.
Today, the pace of legislative change is bewildering and so access to experienced, commercially minded advisers is important. Most businesses want to be seen as innovative and plan a step or two ahead of the status quo. There are many relationships to manage to make the pension professional’s business thrive. We use cutting edge knowledge services to help us get to the heart of each issue.
Vialex is alive to the pension industry challenges. We help cut through the complexity, explain what the regulation means in practice, save you time and money and protect the reputation of your business.
Our services include many specialisms but everything we do is underpinned by our knowledge and experience of general pension law and regulation. We understand and address the market and regulatory requirements. We have worked within businesses and appreciate keenly the impact of risk. Risk is inherent in all business and managing it well should mean the issues that arise will be fewer. We have embraced a risk-based approach to our advice, and we are involved in a diverse range of businesses in the sector, and the suppliers that support them.
We have a proven track record in advising and working with pension professionals and providers, intermediaries and other industry participants. We offer our clients a competitive advantage by providing seamless legal services which reflect a combination of our team’s corporate, commercial, regulatory, prudential and investigation skills, matched with a deep knowledge and understanding of financial markets and regulators.
The law makes our business: we use it to make yours sustainable and profitable. We want you to have legal advice that makes for business solutions for your product and service delivery or governance and infrastructure framework.
We have a vast range of experience of the business cycle of pension schemes and pension products, and the relationships that determine success.
We appreciate too the differences between a pension arrangement run as a business and run for the benefit of a business, and the different outcomes that clients look for in both.
Regulators. Everyone strives for that relationship to work well. Sometimes it doesn’t. We can help you determine what is good practice for you and good management of the regulator’s interest in your business or people.
Driven by risk impact management, we remove the emotion from the issues and move straight to the heart of the matter.
Pension providers and schemes rely on service providers to deliver its products benefits and services.
Economics determines if outsourcing or insourcing is an answer to immediate needs. The operating model has to work, because doing things right first time is the best economic model.
The FCA, and other regulators such as the ICO, have overlay and good practice indicators. We will help you get to right using our practical in-house experience to augment our legal experience.
Whatever customer needs you are meeting, whether corporate or individual, the pension arrangement has to have its governing or constitutional documentation intact and up to date.
Scheme providers and administrators may need help in writing or updating the governing documentation.
We offer answers and advice to product providers and trustees on their responsibilities and liabilities of their positions.
In practical terms we can help with your operational model. Avoiding unauthorised payments is wise, investments and entitlement clearly mapped so that pension expectation and entitlements match.
If you have one, we enjoy working with your technical team to ensure that the operational model is risk assessed and that measure as appropriate brought in to ensure it complies.
There are many professional services firms offering advice for their niche areas to pension schemes. We are delighted to work with you for your benefit or your clients.
Working with our colleagues at Navigator we offer full-service solutions to plan the employee benefit package well to suit your business. Should the law or your business needs change we are there to help guide you through to the best place for your business.
Buy, sell, and lease arrangements, financing, and property management are all part and parcel of our real estate team’s work.
The pension nuances are focused on making sure there are no unintended unauthorised payments. To do that the correct governance has to be observed, process and procedures used and audited, and tenants kept in line.
If you are looking to deal in real estate, please do look to our Real Estate Team
Our corporate team has seen most everything. If you are selling your pensions business, we have seen the market adapt to FCA requirements and change of control. Pensions are often an important part of the corporate M&A. Trustees of a pension scheme can be pivotal in deciding outcomes. We are used to acting for employers or Trustees, and delivering within the timescale of the M&A.
All pension schemes arrangements rely to some extent on other business to deliver its products and services. Economics determines if outsourcing or insourcing is an answer to immediate needs.
If you want help cutting through the jargon of outsourcing, insourcing and procurement in this context, we are here to help.
Whatever the answer, and whether pensions are your business or part of your firm’s remuneration package the operating model has to work, because doing things right first time is the best economic model. There can be an FCA overlay, and their good practice indicators are just that. We will help you get to right using our practical in-house experience to augment our legal experience.
It’s not unusual to have disagreements and errors which can lead to disputes. We rather like to help businesses resolve the matter at hand without progressing to tribunals, ombudsmen, or the courts. While we don’t undertake court work ourselves, and don’t like to prolong a dispute into the court systems unless there is no alternative, we do have a network of firms throughout the country that help us out in the event of things reaching that stage.