Defined Benefit  

Minister wants police involvement in pension transfers

Minister wants police involvement in pension transfers

The minister for pensions and financial inclusion would like the police to be notified of every single defined benefit transfer carried out by pension schemes.

Speaking at the launch of the Pensions Administration Standards Association DB transfers: A guide to good guidance this morning (July 8) in London, Guy Opperman (pictured) urged the pensions industry to improve its in house data so a data sharing solution with the police can be created.

He proposed that each time a pension transfer is processed, "the information is shared in a safe way with the individual, but also with an organisation which is an arm of the police".

The goal would be to reduce the number of victims of pension scams, which according to data from the Financial Conduct Authority, lost an average of £91,000 each to fraudsters in 2017.

There is already a multi-agency tackling pension scams, called Project Bloom, which was set up in 2012 and includes officials from The Pensions Regulator, FCA and the Serious Fraud Office.

Mr Opperman explained the barrier to creating such an intelligence sharing network was the data held by the pension schemes and administrators, which would need to be improved to be shared.

Regarding the new guidance on DB transfers – which sets out that pension schemes and administrators should take no longer than 10 weeks to process standard transfers – the minister said it wasn't the government's role to enforce this.

He said: "We're on a journey here, and it isn't a question of naming and shaming those who don't do that.

"If you want to change the world, look in the mirror. And you're changing the world by making your business more data friendly, consumer focused."

The guide, which won’t apply to partial transfers or overseas transactions, establishes good practice for schemes and administrators in relation to each specific part of the transfer process.

For example, issuing a quote to a member should take no longer than seven or eight working days, while the settlement process – the time spent between receiving all the forms and paying the transfer – should take an extra nine working days.

The document also includes templates for letters to be sent by the schemes to the members when acknowledging a transfer request, and the DB transfer template which all parties are urged to start using.

Paul Gibson, managing director at Granite Financial Planning, said: "I don’t think reporting pension transfers to the police is feasible or is something that should come under their remit.

"I would be interested to know if Project Bloom has been a success before setting up any other agencies. Greater public awareness needs to be encouraged to prevent these scams."

maria.espadinha@ft.com

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