UK trade bodies unite over slow pension transfers

UK trade bodies unite over slow pension transfers

Eight of the UK's investment and pension trade associations have come together to investigate ways to improve the process of transferring pension and investment assets.

A consultation paper published yesterday (5 December) following a review process, detailed proposals which relate to both transfers and de-registrations of retail financial products.

It covered a broad range of tax wrappers and those asset types which are held in these wrappers.

The work has been undertaken by the industry, and in consultation with the Financial Conduct Authority, the Department for Work and Pensions and The Pensions Regulator.

The eight trade associations involved are the Association of British Insurers, the Association of Member Directed Pension Schemes, the Association of Professional Financial Advisers, the British Bankers’ Association, the Investment Association, the Tax Incentivised Savings Association, the UK Platform Group and the Wealth Management Association.

Feedback on these proposals is sought by 31 January 2017, with a final set of recommendations due to be published in Spring 2017.

The first of the five proposals designed to improve the transfers and re-registration process is the creation of clear service expectations for transfers and re-registrations, including a 48 hour standard for completing each step in the process.

The second is the collection of high level management information and a common reporting methodology for all transfers and re-registration instructions.

The third is the creation of a forum to identify, prioritise and implement solutions that resolve unnecessary barriers to transfer and re-registration processes.

The fourth is the development of common industry standards and good practice guidelines for the retail investment and pensions industry;

The final proposal is the establishment of an independent governance and oversight body to oversee the implementation of the final proposals.

A detailed analysis of the current processes has been undertaken and sought views from the industry, conducting primary research to understand the views of consumers.

Analysis highlighted there was generally a high level of consumer satisfaction significantly, by provider, by wrapper and by asset type.

It also identified scope to improve firms’ accountability for delivering good customer outcomes within some transfer and re-registration processes.

Chair of the group, Ed Dymott, head of business development at Fidelity International, said enabling consumers to shop around and move between providers is fundamental to any competitive market.

"For pensions and investments, this means customers need to be able to consolidate or move their assets between different providers efficiently and with clarity at all stages. This review recognises that this is a highly complex area, with a broad range of different products and participants involved in the transfer process.

"There is some good market practice already in existence that can be built on, however we also recognise there are parts of the market where improvements can be made.

"We believe the five proposals under consultation can provide the framework for improving client outcomes for transfers.”

Data collected by Hargreaves Lansdown below shows the extent of problem faced by investors. Each pension provider had completed at least 20 transfers to Hargreaves Lansdown.