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Providers join working group to improve pension transfers

Technology-Tablet-Tech-Computer-500x320.jpgRoyal London and Rothesay Life are among providers joining the Pensions Administration Standards Association’s transfers working group.

The group has been set up by the industry body to look into the transfer process and what can be done to improve it.

It will be chaired by PASA board director Gary Evans and examine the supply chain, potential solutions as well as produce guidance for people who work on transfers.

Transfers have received much attention of late with the most notable example being the British Steel Pension Scheme.

Evans explains transfers are challenging and can frustrate members in the context of defined benefit pensions.

He says: “For example, DB trust schemes are particularly complex in nature and present a number of unique governance challenges and, elsewhere, administrators will be taking appropriate steps if scam activity is suspected.

“This can of course be frustrating for the member, but it is important to remember that these steps are taken solely for their protection.”

However the industry can benefit from closer collaboration to resolve these issues.

He adds: “There is definite room for improvement in the process however, with the lack of clear guidance presenting a real issue for administrators, IFAs and insurers alike – all of whom will understandably have different priorities.

“Our working group will be looking closely at all aspects of the supply chain to work through issues and produce solutions, as well as guidance to act as a reference point and create a smoother, more positive experience for all involved.”

PASA chairwoman Margaret Snowdon thinks a standardised documentation process can cut the time it takes to do transfers.

She says: “We believe we can shorten the time by setting out good practice and agreeing with IFAs, for example, that if they follow a particular standard process and documentation, then the transfer process will be shorter and more certain.  This could involve having pre-prepared standard information available on initial transfer request.”

PASA aims to produce guidance later this year and will consult on the proposals to ensure maximum buy in from all parties, she adds.

Groups and individuals who sit on the working group include Altus’ Ben Cocks, Lothian Pension Fund’s Andrew Crawford, Royal London’s Julie Dale and Lewis Daley, Willis Towers Watson’s Mark Dowsey and The Pensions Regulator’s Clare Hendry.

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