Defined Contribution  

Providers’ pension switching times revealed

Providers’ pension switching times revealed

Hargreaves Lansdown is the provider which takes the longest to process a pension switching request at 29 working days of average.

The FTSE 100 company was among the group which agreed to publish their data as part of an initiative from fintech company Origo.

Canada Life and NFU Mutual, on the other hand, are the fastest providers taking, on average, five days to process a request to move a pension pot.

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This initiative intends to help improve transfer times in the defined contribution industry and has been adopted by 25 per cent of members of the Origo Options Transfer service.

Operating since 2008, the service is used for pension switching – moving pension benefits from one scheme to another scheme, where there aren’t any guaranteed benefits - by more than 95 firms, including major pension consultancies, life companies, platforms and self-invested personal pension providers.

The 27 companies which agreed to publish their data are involved in more than 80 per cent of all completed transactions on the service.

Origo said this was a “significant move for the industry”, intended to showcase the providers’ “good work in monitoring performance and delivering improved transfer times”.

Tom McPhail, head of policy at Hargreaves Lansdown, said the provider had "set a very high priority on improving transfers performance".

He said: “For several months now we’ve been deconstructing every step of our multiple transfers activities, to identify where we can improve our customers’ experience and achieve greater efficiencies.

“Some of this stuff can’t be turned around overnight but it has already led to some significant improvements, with more transfers being executed electronically and a higher proportion being completed within a 10-day window.

“We’re also committed to working with stakeholders such as Origo and Star to play a leading role in industry-wide improvements to transfers; we’re not afraid to be held to account for our failings and invest time and money to make things better.”

Launched in October 2018, Star is a 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.

The Origo data will now be published on a quarterly basis.

Anthony Rafferty, Origo’s managing director, said the figures published today (April 25) showed “it is possible in the right circumstances to reduce transfer times”.

But he noted that it was important to remember that “not all transfers are simple or the same and can be affected by numerous influencing factors”, with an inevitable impact on the time taken to switch providers.

These include product and investment vehicle complexity, customer protection and risk management measures, illiquid asset divestment requirements and regulatory requirements, among others, he noted.

Origo distinguishes these transactions by publishing separate data on simpler transfers, which are those where the ceding provider has complete control over.