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FSA delays contracting out decision as it conducts further analysis

The FSA has delayed announcing the results of its contracting out review while it conducts further analysis of industry data and feedback.

The regulator is gathering information from firms to decide upon how to pursue misselling cases and was expected to make some form of announcement last month.
The lack of news has been interpreted by some in the industry as a positive sign that it will not launch an aggressive pension style review of contracting out. But a spokesman says it is simply because it needs to conduct further analysis of information provided by the industry and potentially ask more questions.
The FSA is particularly concerned about sales made outside the broadly accepted age parameters – pivotal age – or where advisers failed to describe the product properly.
It calmed industry fears of a full scale review by stating last year that its preliminary investigations had revealed no evidence of widespread misselling.
Some commentators believe a pensions style review could cost the industry almost £3bn. It is understood that between 1987/88 and 1996/97 between 200,000 and 250,000 people contracted out of Serps despite being above the pivotal age. Based on research by Oxford Actuaries and Consultants in 2005, commissioned by the FSA, the losses for a 50 year old man who contracted out between 1987 and 1997 could be £17,695 and £9,952 for a 45 year old man.
If the average compensation is £14,000 and 200,000 people are compensated the cost could reach at least £2.8bn.

The FSA says it will make an announcement in Q2.

A spokesman says: “We need to thoroughly test the analysis so we get this right. It is a very complicated area. We also may need to ask further questions of the industry.”

ABI spokesman Jon French says: “Our understanding is the FSA is considering its position in light of information provided by the industry. It has asked for more information in light of the information which we are providing as quickly as we can.”

Standard Life head of pensions policy John Lawson says: “It would be good news for the industry if they did not launch a pension style review. Advisers would bear the brunt of this as 80 per cent of contracted out cases were sold through advisers. Our finding show a small number of people were actually contracted out above the pivotal age.”

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