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.”