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LifeSight becomes first authorized master trust by U.K. regulator

LifeSight, a 3 billion ($3.8 billion) U.K. defined contribution multiemployer plan of Willis Towers Watson, was the first master trust to be authorized under new regulations, the U.K. Pensions Regulator said Wednesday.

The authorization process was set up to weed out poorly governed plans and protect 29 billion in savings for 14 million participants. Ninety U.K. plans have until March 31 to apply for authorization.

As of Jan. 31, eight applications were received by the regulator. According to TPR data, seven master trusts already have left the market and another 31 have triggered an exit. Some 44 master trusts are still expected to either apply for authorization or trigger an exit from the market, the TPR estimated.

"Authorization is progressing well and, as planned, by the end of the year there will be a market of authorized master trusts which will put additional safeguards around those schemes to better protect members," a spokeswoman at the regulator said. "We granted one scheme authorization and have received a further seven applications so far. We are expecting many more applications to be submitted before the window closes on March 31."

The spokeswoman declined to comment on whether any more master trusts will be authorized before March 31 deadline.

Commenting on LifeSight's authorization, Jesal Mistry, senior investment consultant at Hymans Robertson, said in an emailed comment: "When the authorization window opened last year there was an expectation that master trust providers would clamor to submit their applications, leading to a concern that providers would rush their applications without the necessary care and attention. However, thankfully, this has so far failed to materialize."