Check the pensions industry, Minister Clarke!
Dr Nigel Clarke.

Dear Editor,

I implore the Minister of Finance Dr Nigel Clarke and Executive Director of the Financial Services Commission (FSC) Major Keron Burrell to check the pensions industry and the way it is being regulated.

With private assets amounting to $690.89 billion as at September 2022, per the FSC's website statistics, the pensions industry locally is truly the real heavyweight of the non-deposit-taking financial services sector.

Therefore, the FSC's sound regulation of the industry, that is, being driven by sound legal practices and the terms of their statutes rather than caving in to the desires of powerful entities and individuals within the industry itself, is imperative.

The recent court cases involving the FSC and the pensions industry, plus word on the street, suggest a culture of non-compliance, turning of blind eyes, ignoring statutory provisions, granting of waivers, and poor trust stewardship by appointed trustees.

Therefore, the questions that must be asked is: Why is the current general counsel of the FSC in an acting position? Was the previous one made to leave? If so, by whom? Has the FSC been listening to legal advice given?

In my experience with private and public sector bodies, scandals often come in groups. If there was poor governance of and capitulating to the demands of the securities industry by the FSC, it is likely that, that style of non-regulation extends to the other sectors under its supervision, in particular the pensions industry. Another thing I've found in my experience is that the lawyers of the entity (and internal audits) usually catch the irregularities long before they become issues. It is management that usually ignores them. Word to the wise: Listen to your lawyers!

So I'd recommend that you check the advice/opinions given by the lawyers and internal auditors over the years at the FSC, particularly in recent times. Has the FSC been blatantly breaching the terms of its own legislation? Has the FSC been granting favours to industry friends?

Please, check the operations within the pensions industry! Let's not have a repeat of the 1990s.

Joan Barnett

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