Who we are
Who we are
We are an independent organisation set up by law to help people resolve their pension disputes and complaints. We are completely impartial and our service is free.
We have a team of over 100 people who deal with enquiries, decide whether we can look at a complaint, investigate complaints and ensure the organisation is well run.
Our organisation chart shows how we are structured.
In addition, we have a volunteer network of over 200 pension professionals who help us resolve complaints and disputes at an early stage.
The power to make final and binding decisions rests with an Ombudsman. The Pensions Ombudsman and Deputy Pensions Ombudsman are appointed by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
They have the same powers to make decisions about occupational and personal pension schemes, the Pension Protection Fund and the Financial Assistance Scheme.
If we decide we can look into your complaint, we will allocate it to one of our Adjudicators. They have powers delegated from an Ombudsman to gather evidence and say what the outcome should be.
Our Ombudsmen and governance structure
We have a Pensions Ombudsman and a Deputy Pensions Ombudsman. There is an Operational Executive and our Corporate Board provides strategic leadership. You can find out more below:
Pensions Ombudsman and Pension Protection Fund Ombudsman
Anthony Arter is the Pensions Ombudsman and Pension Protection Fund Ombudsman. He was originally appointed in May 2015 for a period of four years. In December 2018, Anthony was reappointed for a further two years until 31 July 2021.
Anthony is a member of the Operational Executive and the Corporate Board.
In May 2019, he was elected as the Chair of the Ombudsman Association for the UK and Ireland.
Anthony is a solicitor who has specialised in pensions since 1996. He was Eversheds LLP’s Head of Pensions from 2005 until 2013 and their London Senior Partner 2009 until 2014.
Until 2015 Anthony was an independent member of the Pensions Management Institute Committee overseeing their Accredited Adviser Programme.
He has also been an independent trustee for many years and in December 2018, Anthony was appointed as a pro bono Trustee Director of the Action for Children Pension Fund.
Deputy Pensions Ombudsman and Deputy Pension Protection Fund Ombudsman
Karen Johnston is the Deputy Pensions Ombudsman and Deputy Pension Protection Fund Ombudsman and was appointed on 1 July 2015.
Karen is not involved in the management of the organisation, so is not a member of the Operational Executive or the Corporate Board.
Since 2017 she has been a member of the Regulatory Decisions Committee at the Financial Conduct Authority and is also Vice Chair of Brighton and Hove Citizens Advice.
Karen was formerly the Strategy lawyer for the Pensions Regulator, where she also held a lead role on the auto-enrolment programme. Prior to 2004 she worked as a consumer legal adviser at the Office of Fair Trading following a career at the independent bar.
Interim Chair, Corporate Board
Caroline Rookes was appointed as interim Chair of The Pensions Ombudsman in September 2019.
Caroline was the Chief Executive Officer of the Money Advice Service between 2013 and 2017. Prior to this, Caroline was the Director of Private Pensions at the Department for Work and Pensions where she led the programme to introduce automatic enrolment and the NEST pension scheme. During the 2017/18 pension restructuring exercise, Caroline led an independent review of communications and support provided to British Steel Pension Scheme members. From 2002 to 2005, Caroline was the Director of Savings Pensions and Share Schemes at HMRC.
Caroline has been a Trustee of the Civil Service Sports Council Superannuation scheme since 2015. From 2015-2019 she was a Trustee of the NEST pension scheme and in January 2019 she was appointed as a Trustee of the Pension Superfund. In 2010 Caroline was awarded the CBE.
Non-Executive Director, Corporate Board
Mark Ardron was appointed as Non-Executive Director at The Pensions Ombudsman in 2017. His role includes membership of the Corporate Board and the Audit and Risk Committee (since 2014).
Mark is a qualified accountant and has over 25 years experience in a range of public-sector bodies. He is currently Head of Finance at The Pensions Regulator which includes responsibility for the collection of pension levies on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions and the Pension Protection Fund.
He has experience across a wide range of functions including programme and project management, organisational governance, government spending reviews and debt management.
Director of Corporate Services
Jane Carey is Director of Corporate Services at The Pensions Ombudsman and also a member of the Operational Executive and the Corporate Board. Jane is a qualified accountant and a certified member of CIPFA.
Jane leads the Corporate Services Directorate that is responsible for delivering all corporate services to the organisation, including finance, risk and governance, IT, HR, communications and information management.
She joined The Pensions Ombudsman in 2007 as Business Manager to set up the necessary systems to facilitate TPO becoming an independent financial entity. She was appointed Director in February 2016.
Prior to joining The Pensions Ombudsman, Jane spent 20 years in the civil service where she held various posts in DSS, Contributions Agency and then HMRC.
Fiona Nicol is Casework Director at The Pensions Ombudsman and a member of the Operational Executive and the Corporate Board.
Fiona leads on the implementation of operational strategy and was appointed as Casework Director in February 2016. She joined The Pensions Ombudsman in 2004 and had responsibility for teams in various areas of the business in addition to being a member of the management team.
Prior to joining The Pensions Ombudsman, Fiona had worked in the financial services industry for around 20 years, spending a significant amount of that time in consulting related to pensions.
Claire Ryan is Legal Director at The Pensions Ombudsman and also a member of the Operational Executive and the Corporate Board.
Claire leads the Legal Team (which combines technical pensions specialists) which advises on jurisdiction, casework, litigation, policy and pensions legislation. She joined The Pensions Ombudsman in November 1999 as a lawyer and then moved to Head of Legal before being appointed as Legal Director in February 2016.
Prior to joining The Pensions Ombudsman, Claire trained as a solicitor at Nabarro’s (now CMS) and then went to Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer to work in the employment pensions and benefits department where she primarily specialised in pensions law.
Claire is a member of the Association of Pension Lawyers and regularly presents and gives talks on pension law issues and the work of The Pensions Ombudsman.
Volunteering with us
We have a volunteer network of over 200 pension professionals who volunteer with us. Volunteering is a great opportunity to broaden your pension knowledge. You will get different types of cases such as overpayments, delays, ill health and death benefits.
Steve Webb, TPO Volunteer Advisor
Steve was the Government’s Pensions Minister from 2010 to 2015. He served as an MP for 18 years, helping his constituents to deal with their pension issues and lobbying for improvements in pension administration. He has been a volunteer for three years. Steve chose to become a volunteer because he wanted to continue to help people with their individual pension disputes, something he missed when he stopped being an MP in 2015. He found the initial volunteer mentoring to be a huge advantage. And feels the training and support offered by The Pensions Ombudsman staff is a great way to keep updated with the ongoing changes to pensions. Steve enjoys being a volunteer and likes the feeling that he has improved someone’s situation by helping them to understand and make better sense of their pension issues. He feels his efforts are always appreciated, especially knowing that he is a volunteer when people seem to value his help even more.
“It’s an amazing feeling when you help someone who has been stuck by using your knowledge and connections.”
Angela Sharma, TPO Volunteer Advisor
Angela is a pensions lawyer with over 20 years experience, and has been a volunteer for 14 years. Angela wanted to become a volunteer at The Pensions Ombudsman to use her knowledge and experience to help people resolve their disputes, especially when they don’t feel they are getting anywhere and to demystify pensions for them. Her personal goals are to deliver a great service and in doing so hopefully restore and maintain confidence in pensions. She finds the team at The Pensions Ombudsman very friendly and approachable, offering regular practical workshops and face to face sessions. Angela highlights the variety of technical and practical updates available to volunteers, and the opportunity to share opinions with other volunteers at the seminars, workshops and training sessions as very useful. Angela enjoys seeing issues from a different perspective and understanding what complainants really care about. She finds that people are really grateful for the help she provides which is massively rewarding. She also appreciates dealing with cases in a balanced and impartial way and finds engaging with the team at The Pensions Ombudsman fulfilling.
“Being a volunteer within The Pensions Ombudsman professional framework makes you feel part of a very special organisation.”