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Pensions regulator eyes template for DB transfer information

The Pensions Regulator is talking to schemes about providing a standardised document to advisers requesting information for defined benefit transfers, TPR’s head of policy has said.

While recognising the importance of tailored advice, Fiona Frobisher told the Money Marketing in Focus conference today that it was looking to take steps to improve the clarity and speed of information advisers can get from schemes.

Frobisher said one of the main problems the regulator is seeing around DB transfers is the issue of communication between advisers and administrators, describing the current situation as “a nightmare”.

She said: “The big issue is the toing and froing of information between advisers and administrators. That seems to be a complete nightmare,” she added.

To tackle this issue Frobisher said TPR was working closely with the FCA to develop a “standardised” set of guidelines for the transfer process.

She said: “We are looking to see if we can provide standardised information. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a need for individual advice, but there needs to be a standard.”

On what such a set of rules might look like, Frobisher said the focus should be on “bridging the gap” between “general requirements” and individual advice.

“Trying to bridge the general market and the highly individual advice that advisers give is the challenge. We hope we will be able to get something more standardised that connects those worlds of DB pension administrators and individual advisers.”

Frobisher said the regulator expects to publish the new guidelines in the spring, coinciding with the results of the FCA’s consultations on DB transfer advice.

According to the latest figures, the proportion of people in DB schemes has shrunk significantly over the past three years, from around 25 per cent of employees in 2014 to less than 10 per cent today, falling to 1 per cent for firms with 30 employees or less.

Frobisher said: “Just 14 per cent of DB schemes are still open while there has been a big decline in new schemes opening. The ones left open are the ones people want to be open – whether even those will slowly close is unclear.”

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Comments

There are 6 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. When will it be done?

  2. Lets hope this happens and quickly and I have been shouting about this for quite a while.

  3. Couldn’t agree more. While some trustees/administrators co-operate others are, as quoted in the article, a nightmare. The information offered initially is never sufficient to complete a report or obtain a sensible TVA and very often we as advisers are working to a deadline.

  4. This is long overdue. I have a client being forced to pay a=for a new CETV because the 3 month deadline expired despite the scheme failing to provide all relevant information from the outset. We are appealing this but this type of thing happens in almost every case and is an unfair practice which simply adds to the costs the scheme member incurs.

  5. Hallelujah!

    They should survey IFAs too, to find what include information is most often requested.

    I accept that sometimes the detail is buried deep in scheme handbooks but making answers to common questions (such as the scheme’s dependent pension entitlement and whether they offer partial transfers or not) form part of the information provided would save us all time.

    Sometimes over 2 weeks is lost between the document being printed and it arriving with the client, the clients then sits on it and more often than not, the to-ing and fro-ing to scheme Administration then puts pressure on the timescales.

  6. I have a standard letter requesting specific information that I send to the scheme administrators with the LOA. To date, I have never received all of this information and it often takes months of chasing. However, I did have a situation a few months back where the administrators sent me a benefit statement (without any breakdown) and a letter stating that if I wanted anything else they would charge me for it.

    If a standardised request template can be enforced then it can’t happen soon enough. I’m not sure that scheme afdministrators will necessarily care about that, though.

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