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Caroline Rookes, TPO Chair, has died

Date:

It is with great sadness that The Pensions Ombudsman (TPO) has to announce that its Chair, Caroline Rookes, died on Monday 16 October.

Caroline joined TPO as its interim Chair on 1 September 2019 following recommendations set out in TPO’s Tailored Review of that year. She was appointed permanent Chair in December 2021 for a further five years.

Caroline brought significant depth and breadth of knowledge to her role at TPO. Formerly a senior civil servant, her career spanned several top management roles. She was the Chief Executive Officer of the Money Advice Service from 2013 until 2017. Between 2005 and 2013, Caroline was the Director of Private Pensions at the Department for Work and Pensions where she led a landmark and successful reform of private pensions including the introduction of automatic enrolment and the NEST pension scheme. From 2002 to 2005, Caroline was the Director of Savings Pensions and Share Schemes at HMRC where she led a reform of the pension tax regime.

During the 2017/18 pension restructuring exercise, Caroline led an independent review of communications and support provided to British Steel Pension Scheme members.

Caroline was a Trustee of the Civil Service Sports Council Superannuation scheme, the NEST pension scheme and the Pension Superfund.

In 2010 she was awarded the CBE in recognition of her successful civil service career and in 2014 she was awarded an Alumni Award by Lancaster University for outstanding achievement.

Her impressive experience and commitment to continually improving the service for the potential benefit of millions of pension scheme members was unrivalled.

During her time at TPO, Caroline provided strategic governance through a global pandemic and subsequent cost of living crisis. She oversaw a period of significant transformation including delivering a new customer journey, onboarding four new Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) who joined in May 2021 and launching the pilot Pensions Dishonesty Unit. In January 2023 she welcomed a new Pensions Ombudsman.

Dominic Harris, Pensions Ombudsman, said:

“Caroline was a shining example of ‘public service’, with a desire to make the world a better place, particularly the world of pensions. As Chair, she found the perfect balance between being supportive and challenging – and, in particular, she made sure that our decisions were always taken with the best interests of the public and our other users at the forefront of our mind. She will be greatly missed.”

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