Defined Contribution  

Pensions switching initiative adopted by 21 firms

Pensions switching initiative adopted by 21 firms

Star, a new pensions’ switching initiative, will be covering 35m policyholders, as 21 firms have agreed to join the platform.

Launched in October 2018, the partnership between Criterion and TeX is working on delivering the Transfers and Re-registration Industry Group framework, which was published in July and proposes a 14-day maximum limit for cash transactions and 15 days for occupational scheme transfers.

Trig is a collaboration of 10 industry bodies and was created in 2016. The framework aims to improve the customer experience by encouraging good practice in the defined contribution space.

Star is on route to achieving its target of 30 founding members, said Tom McPhail, chairman of the Star steering committee, and head of policy at Hargreaves Lansdown.

The next stage of the initiative’s development will bring in technical working groups and a supplier forum, with the first steering group meeting scheduled for May.

Mr McPhail said: "This is about the industry doing things better for their customers but there is a commercial benefit too: in the transfer market we all have to deal with counterparties.

"It doesn’t matter how slick your own systems are, if the firm you’re dealing with isn’t willing to work quickly then you’ll still end up wasting time and money dealing with manual queries and you’ll have an unhappy customer.

"Customers still sometimes have to wait for a pension scheme to write out a cheque and post it to complete a transfer. This one step in the process can add a week to a transfer.

"As a business, if you want to put a stop to this kind of arcane practice, you should sign up to Star and encourage all other firms to do the same."

Meanwhile the Financial Conduct Authority has warned in its Investment Platforms Market Study, published on March 14, it will consider further regulatory action if fund switching times don't improve.

Mr McPhail said: "Hargreaves Lansdown’s own experience shows the benefit of firms collaborating: 75 per cent of our self-invested personal pension transfers are completed in 11 days when executed electronically, but postal transfers take an average of 68 days to complete. There are even cases of transfers taking over 450 days."

Aegon, Aviva, B&CE (The People's Pension), Barclays. Barnett Waddingham, DST Funds, Equiniti, Fidelity, Fusion Wealth, Hargreaves Lansdown, Interactive Investor, Invesco, Janus Henderson, Legal & General, LV, Old Mutual Wealth, Scottish Widows, Standard Life Aberdeen, Transact, Wealthtime and Zurich are the companies which already agreed to join Star.

maria.espadinha@ft.com