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14 May 2019

USS becomes first hybrid pension scheme to secure Master Trust approval

USS has been confirmed as a Master Trust, reflecting the high standards that are being met by the trustee in running the scheme on behalf of universities and in protecting members’ benefits.

Already the largest private pension scheme in the UK by way of assets (£64bn, 31 March 2018), USS is the first hybrid pension scheme to achieve Master Trust authorisation from the Pensions Regulator.

The Investment Builder (the scheme’s defined contribution section) launched in October 2016 and now has more than £700m in assets and 84,000 members – all of whom are also members of the scheme’s defined benefit section (£64bn in assets, c.400,000 members).

Sir David Eastwood, Chair of the USS Board, said: “The high standards we demand of our people and processes reflect our sense of responsibility to members and sponsoring employers in administering the scheme conscientiously, diligently and professionally on their behalf.

“Our members can take a great deal of comfort and confidence from how well their benefits are being managed and protected by USS.”

The Master Trust regime formed part of the Pensions Schemes Act 2017, and serves to strengthen the protections afforded to members by setting the high standards legally demanded of trustees, including:

Fit and proper: all the people who have a significant role in running the scheme can demonstrate that they meet a standard of honesty, integrity, knowledge and competence appropriate to their role.

Systems and processes: IT systems and governance arrangements enable the scheme to run properly and there are robust processes in place to administer the scheme.

Continuity strategy: there is a plan in place to protect members if something happens that may threaten the existence of the scheme, including how a master trust will be wound up.

Financial sustainability, including business plan: the scheme has the financial resources to cover running costs and also the cost of winding up the scheme if it fails, without impacting on members’ benefits.