Govt called to intervene on pension switching times


Only legislation will give savers the confidence they will be able to switch their pension from one provider to another promptly, Romi Savova has said.

The founder and chief executive of Pensionbee said asking the industry to sort this out was like "asking turkeys to vote for Christmas".

She said some providers can take up to 60 days to complete a switch, and said the publication of transfer times by Origo Options, which showed some providers achieving it in 10 days, demonstrated what was possible.

Ms Savova said: "Probably about 70 per cent of providers are using electronic switching facilities but the other part are not and that's really where some of the cross-industry initiatives have come from - to try and bring the part of the market that still relies on paper forms and lots of confidential information being sent around in the postal system, to try and bring those providers to the table.

"Unfortunately the technology has been around for 10 years and they still have not decided to use it, so I am somewhat sceptical of voluntary initiatives because it is a bit like asking turkeys to vote for Christmas.

"I do think that the initiatives have an important role to play in terms of providing a forum for people to provide best practice, but I see that as more of a group therapy session rather than something that's going to bring about the consistency that consumers deserve.

"Without legislation for switching times I don't really see how consumers will have the confidence their pension switch will be completed in a timely manner."

Pensionbee is not part of the Star pension switching initiative which is a group of providers working on delivering the Transfers and Re-registration Industry Group framework, which proposes a 14-day maximum limit for cash transactions and 15 days for occupational scheme transfers.

Ms Savova said the pensions industry needed a similar guarantee to the banking sector, where the current account switching guarantee means balances are transferred from one bank to another on a date of the client's choosing, along with payments, which was introduced after a government inquiry into the banking sector.