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Inside the Master Trust matrix: sustainability and development
8 June 2020

Inside the Master Trust matrix: sustainability and development

DC Master Trusts are growing at an incredible pace. By some estimates they will account for up to £300 billion in pension savings by the middle of this decade.

And this growth could accelerate as the COVID-19 pandemic compels organisations to seek ways to reduce their operating costs. The lockdown has had an incredible impact on most companies’ revenues and working practices. Quite simply, in the post COVID-19 world, an in-house Defined Contribution (DC) trustee governance model might just be considered ‘too difficult to do’.

The key aspects of providing workplace DC provision are familiar and apply equally to own trust DC schemes and DC Master Trusts: administration and record keeping; member engagement and communication; investment default strategy and self-select options all with governance oversight. Other considerations include costs, sustainability and proposition developments.

Let’s look at sustainability and development in the context of Master Trusts in more detail.



The financial position of a Master Trust will influence the pricing approach that it adopts and offers to members, as well its ability to develop and enhance the member experience.

Master Trusts are assessed under five criteria by the Pensions Regulator. These include the ‘financial sustainability’ of the scheme and the requirement for an ‘adequate continuity strategy’ should it get into any financial difficulties.

Master Trusts are required to have a ‘scheme funder’ while persons involved in managing and running the scheme must be ‘fit and proper’.

Therefore, long-term financial sustainability and a strong balance sheet is of paramount importance. So, too, is having the appropriate mix of skill sets within the trustee board with commercial experience of operating a complex financial business being particularly relevant. This combination will result in the Master Trust being a long-term successful provider.



Master Trusts benefit from scale and from their ability to invest in developing the member experience, to access new technologies and investment innovation. However, development is not merely about the latest technology or app: it is fundamentally about safeguarding the ability to deliver the essentials, as the current turmoil has highlighted.

This is underpinned by having a sustainable business model, which delivers real value for money: not just for employees, but also for employers who need support with transition as well as ongoing scheme management. It has never been more important to ensure pensioners receive their pension accurately and on time.

It has also never been more important to support members so that they can still have the ability to speak to someone about their pension, if they are worried about their job or the value of their savings.

Therefore, development has to include ensuring that members have access to the essentials when they need it most, as the current turmoil has highlighted.


This article was featured in Pensions Aspects magazine June 2020 edition

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Last update: 19 January 2021

Andy Dickson
Andy Dickson
Atlas Master Trust
Head of Market Strategy

Benefits Specialist, Pensions

Salary: £55000 pa

Location: Middlesex, currently all Home-based then a mix of Home and Office

Managing Consultant - Pensions Governance & Scheme Secretariat

Salary: £70000 - £110000 pa

Location: London

Pensions Implementation & Projects Analyst, 3 days from home

Salary: £32000 - £45000 pa

Location: Bristol

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