Charles Counsell has announced he will not be seeking a second term as Chief Executive of The Pensions Regulator (TPR) following a successful tenure in which the needs of the saver have been placed at the heart of TPR’s work.
Mr Counsell took up the post of CEO in April 2019 and will step down at the end of March 2023.
During his time as CEO, Mr Counsell has successfully led a fundamental reorientation of TPR by delivering TPR’s new 15-year strategy to put savers at the heart of all it does and embracing the shift from defined benefit to defined contribution saving.
Despite the rapid pace of change across the industry, and the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, Mr Counsell has ensured TPR staff have been able to deliver vital work to cement the organisation as a clear, quick and tough regulator. TPR’s response to the pandemic, which involved a suite of communications and guidance, targeted easements and direct contact with schemes and administrators, was welcomed by stakeholders.
Under his leadership, TPR has made significant progress in the implementation of TPR’s new legislative powers under the Pension Schemes Act 2022. It has developed a clear plan with FCA to help drive better value for money for savers, led the debate for stronger diversity and inclusion across the industry and has brought a number of high-profile prosecutions and enforcement cases while maintaining the fight against pension scams.
Alongside this, there has been consolidation in the DC market, with 36 DC master trusts now authorised, containing more than 20m saver memberships and £79bn in assets. TPR has also embedded its supervisory approach, with almost 32m pension pots in DB, DC and MT schemes under relationship supervision by TPR.
Mr Counsell previously spent six years at TPR as Executive Director for Automatic Enrolment, responsible for the successful roll-out of this programme across the UK. In his 10-year career at TPR, the automatic enrolment programme has led to more than 10 million workers newly saving into a workplace pension and continues to be a resounding success.
Mr Counsell said: “My time as Chief Executive of The Pensions Regulator has been tremendously rewarding. In the face of rapid legislative change, and against a backdrop of the pandemic and challenging economic conditions, I am immensely proud of the work we have delivered. It has been a huge privilege to work with so many dedicated and passionate colleagues.
“Our new 15-year corporate strategy is well-embedded and has led to a fundamental shift in our focus to embrace the changing face of pension saving. From April 2023, there will be an excellent opportunity for a new Chief Executive to take the strategy into its next phase. I am confident TPR will ensure that the needs of savers, at all stages of their pension journeys, remain the driver of how we operate, underpinned by our priorities for value for money, security and scrutiny of decision making.
“In the meantime, I remain fully committed to my role. There is much to do in the next months, from consulting on our new DB code, working with trustees to prepare for Dashboards and pushing on with our work to improve scheme governance and value for money in line with the gathering pace of consolidation.”
Chair of TPR, Sarah Smart, said: “I would like to thank Charles for the commitment and leadership he has shown as Chief Executive. He has played a pivotal role in reshaping TPR as an organisation which, at its heart, is now focused on ensuring savers have the best chance of realising the retirement outcomes they deserve. I look forward to another busy year working with Charles before he moves on. And while we are all disappointed he is leaving us, I know we are in the best shape possible to meet the challenges that lie ahead.”
The search for a successor will led by TPR’s Chair, Sarah Smart. The appointment will be subject to the approval of the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.