This content is from: Corner Office

Pension Protection Fund Loses Its CEO

Alan Rubenstein, one of the most prominent executives in the U.K. retirement market, is leaving the PPF.

  • Joe McGrath

Alan Rubenstein, chief executive of the £30 billion ($39 billion) Pension Protection Fund, is leaving the British group early next year.

Rubenstein, one of the most prominent executives in the U.K. retirement market, said in a statement Monday that after eight “hugely enjoyable” years with the Pension Protection Fund he is stepping down for a “fresh challenge.” A spokeswoman for the PPF said recruitment for his replacement will start “in the next few weeks.”

The fund offers a financial lifeline to U.K. members of defined benefit schemes when their employers go bust and can’t provide the retirement payments they promised workers. PPF added 12,000 people to the fund during the 12 months through March, bringing the total transferred to 235,000, according to its latest annual report.

“The PPF has grown from an organization whose very survival was in doubt to one which is now a firmly established part of our national pensions fabric,” Rubenstein said.

The fund’s invested assets have soared to more than £30 billion, from £2.9 billion when he joined in 2009, according to PPF’s statement about his departure. The fund protects 11 million people belonging to DB plans throughout the U.K.

Rubenstein is also known for his involvement establishing the Pensions Infrastructure Platform, a fund started last year to encourage pension plans to make long-term investments in U.K. infrastructure projects. Last year he was also called by the British government’s Work and Pensions Committee to assist its enquiry into the collapse of retailer BHS and the implications for the company’s retirement fund.

[II Deep Dive: U.K. Pensions Regulator Slams Philip Green in a BHS report]

Steve Webb, director of policy at Royal London and a former U.K. pension minister, calls Rubenstein “a giant of the pensions world.”

“Many hundreds of thousands of current PPF members and many millions of potential PPF members owe him a debt of gratitude,” Webb said in an emailed statement. “I have no doubt that Alan could have earned far more in a private sector post than the government is prepared to pay someone to run a public body of this sort.”

Rubenstein, who previously worked in asset management and investment banking at Morgan Stanley and at Lehman Brothers Holdings, remains an investment adviser to the British Coal Staff Superannuation Scheme, according to the PPF statement.

Arnold Wagner, chairman of the PPF, also praised Rubenstein’s work, saying the fund’s position is now “strong.” According to its annual report, PPF had a funding level of 121.6 percent at the end of March, up from 116.3 percent a year earlier.

As a result of his achievements, the fund is “well placed to continue to protect the millions of people in the U.K. who belong to defined benefit pension schemes,” Wagner said. “Our task now is to locate a successor to pilot the PPF through its next phase of development.”