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Head of Pensions, Stephen Gillick reviews three core topics impacting the pensions industry during the past year and looks ahead to how these may continue to shape the landscape in 2024.


The horizon for the pensions industry in Ireland began to take on a different complexion in 2023. We finally saw the publication of the Automatic Enrolment Retirement Saving System Bill in late 2022. If Automatic-Enrolment is implemented in accordance with the Government’s target, it means that pensions coverage in Ireland could be about to improve significantly over the next few years. Employers have much to consider in terms of understanding how Auto-Enrolment will impact their employees and ensuring that existing employment contracts will not pose issues when the Bill is passed into law.

This article considers some of the benefits of Auto-Enrolment for employers. If an employer opts for Auto-Enrolment they will not need to establish the scheme, procure a pensions provider or pensions administrator, assess eligibility, or select a savings option for their employees. Instead, the new Central Processing Authority will be responsible for these administrative responsibilities. Auto-Enrolment has been successful in the UK. NEST and a range of competing master trusts are well-established and participation rates remain high.

Read the full article: Auto-Enrolment: The Benefits to Employers

Occupational Pensions Schemes Regulations

During this year, and in accordance with Pensions Authority (Authority) deadlines, sponsors and trustees got down to business in transferring their stand-alone group schemes and one-member arrangements into their newly established master trusts. However, compliance with the European Union (Occupational Pension Scheme) Regulations 2021 will be an ongoing requirement for trustees and administrators. Notably, the Authority has indicated its intent to be active regarding its enforcement work. Understandably many sponsors, trustees and employers are still grappling with the scale of change brought about by the Occupational Pensions Scheme Regulations.

The Regulations, supplemented by the Authority’s Code of Practice, have had a seismic impact on the Irish pensions industry. Two years on from their publication, they remain the most considered, analysed, and advised on aspects of the new pensions landscape for pensions technical units, pension scheme actuaries, and legal advisors. This article provides a high-level synopsis of the Authority’s information notes on compliance deadlines and its guidance on when temporary exemptions from IORP II compliance apply. In our view, more of the same can be expected from the Authority next year.

Read the full article: 2023 – A Crucial Year for IORP II Compliance

Pensions and artificial intelligence

Much like every other industry this year, stakeholders in the pensions industry also began to contemplate what the future may look like with recent developments in AI and machine learning.

AI is expected to develop rapidly, although it is likely to face significant challenges in terms of integration and cost. It seems that AI can certainly assist in improving member outcomes in the future, though the cost of integration with existing systems could be a significant hurdle for smaller providers. It is, therefore, expected to play an increasing role in pension scheme administration in the future. In a recent survey we carried out, almost three-quarters (72%) of Ireland’s pensions industry believed that AI has the potential to deliver better outcomes for pension scheme members. The survey was completed by 227 participants and was conducted at our Pensions & AI – Opportunities & Pitfalls webinar.

A recent article considers some of the likely uses for AI in the pensions industry, as well as its limitations: I, Trustee: Artificial Intelligence & Pensions


Before year-end, employers and trustees should carry out an appraisal of their schemes’ compliance with regulatory requirements. While finalised Auto-Enrolment legislation is close at hand and AI will play its part in pension scheme administration and investments, every occupational pension scheme must be compliant with the Regulations unless an exemption applies.

Where there is doubt about what is required under any part of the Occupational Pensions Schemes Regulations, or where a preliminary chat about Auto-Enrolment would be helpful, do not hesitate to contact our Pensions team.

The content of this article is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other advice.

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