The Pensions Administration Standards Association has published good practice guidance for those dealing with defined benefit transfers.
At its annual conference in London yesterday (May 3), Pasa explained that the time taken to process DB transfers varies hugely, and sometimes, unexplained delays damage the relationship members have with their scheme, and pensions in general, which can lead to a breakdown of trust.
Some transfers can often take months to execute, while others are processed within a month but administration delays can mean less time being available to the member, and their adviser, to consider options and suitability, resulting in decisions being rushed and perhaps not in their best interest.
“Transfers are complex and processes vary by administrator, but all should have the same objective – providing the full information needed by a member and their adviser as promptly and efficiently as possible so they can make a properly informed decision,” Pasa said.
To improve administration standards, the DB Transfers Working Group was asked to develop guidance which prioritises the member and their needs.
Chairperson of the DB Transfers Working Group, James Ellison, said: “This guidance sets out the principles and suggests simplified approaches for faster, safer and more efficient transfers which comply with regulations.
“The proposed processes aren’t prescriptive – administrators are free to adapt them as necessary to fit their preferred operating model. However, the principles of the guidance should be followed at all times.”
Pasa said the 2019 guidance was part one of an intended two-part release, with the first covering ‘standard’ transfers and part two covering ‘non standard’ cases.
However, rather than producing part two, the Working Group decided to create a good practice code covering all DB transfers and to consult with the industry prior to publication.
The responses to the consultation saw four key themes emerge.
- overall support for the transfer objectives;
- a majority rejection of set timescales for tasks in favour of allowing individual businesses to determine their own timescales and processes in line with their own working practices;
- a preference for greater flexibility in timing; and
- recognising third parties are relied upon for some elements of a transfer, which can significantly affect processing times.
Pasa president, Margaret Snowdon, said: "The guidance is designed to support transfer processes which contribute to a better end-to-end member experience, ensure members and adviser communications are timely and helpful and help to protect members from pension scams.
“We ask for the industry to work together to make defined benefit transfers faster, safer and better in order to improve member outcomes.”
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