Defined Contribution  

Pension providers urged to join switching platform

Pension providers urged to join switching platform

A group of 10 trade bodies are urging pension providers to sign up for a new joint venture that will deliver an industry switching platform.

The Transfers and Re-registration Industry Group (TRIG) announced today (16 October) it is endorsing and recommending a joint venture formed by Criterion and TeX under the brand of ‘Star’, which will "deliver a long-term governance solution to the transfers work".

In July, the trade bodies published a framework on pension switching, which proposed a 14-day maximum limit for cash transactions and 15 days for occupational scheme transfers.

The group will be encouraging member firms in their respective associations to sign up to the framework.

The group, which was created in 2016, aims to improve the customer experience by identifying and encouraging good practice so outlying firms improve their own processes in the defined contribution (DC) space.

The 10 trade associations involved include the Association of British Insurers, the Investment Association, the Pensions & Lifetime Savings Association and the Personal Investment Management & Financial Advice Association (Pimfa).

Guy Opperman, minister for pensions and financial inclusion, recently urged providers to speed up pension switches.

He said: "I welcome this initiative and the progress made so far in speeding up transfers. For routine DC transfers it makes sense, from both a competition and customer service point of view, that members are able to move their money swiftly.

"For many members moving money is straightforward but for some others it is far from effective and I would urge firms to commit to the TRIG framework, as this is an area the government is keeping a close eye on."

Tom McPhail, head of policy at Hargreaves Lansdown and chairman of TRIG, said: "Firms want to do the right thing for their customers; when they have to transact with other firms to move customers' money, they also want to know it can be done quickly and efficiently.

"The publication of a register of financial companies who have signed up to this initiative and of ongoing performance data, will bring transparency and scrutiny to companies' performance, creating pressure on businesses which are lagging behind to up their game."

Lesley Titcomb, chief executive of The Pensions Regulator, argued it is important that savers seeking to move pension pots between providers "can do so promptly and safely".

She said: "We welcome the Star initiative, which raises the bar on the standards people can expect when transferring from a DC scheme.

"We hope administrators of pension schemes will quickly embrace the proposed new framework which will bring greater certainty and speed for transfers, giving savers improved control over their money. 

"In turn, we expect the framework to deliver lower administration costs as providers experience a simpler experience when dealing with other organisations."

maria.espadinha@ft.com