FCA plan ‘business as usual’ for pensions

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will continue pressing on with initiatives to ensure the pensions market meets consumers’ needs, according to its latest business plan.

Published today, 17 April, the regulator said it will push ahead with the findings from its June 2018 Retirement Outcomes Review (ROR), as well as its more recent initiatives including extending the remit of Independent Governance Committees (IGC)s and its joint strategy with The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

It said it continued to be particularly concerned about unsuitable pension transfers, scams and demographic changes, which highlight that “the market is not always meeting consumers’ needs”.

The FCA also said that it will look into competition in the non-workplace pension market, due to the “difficulties inadequately assessing and comparing these products”.

As part of its ROR, in January the regulator said it would be consulting on plans to introduce ‘investment pathways’, as well as introducing new rules on ‘wake up packs’, in order to stop 100,000 consumers a year losing out on pension income.

It added that it will monitor its initiatives, completing a post-implementation review of its ROR remedies, assessing how well providers offer investment pathways and what they are charging.

The FCA also said it will continue to work closely with the Department for Work and Pensions on the pensions dashboard, to ensure it will deliver good outcomes for consumers.

Hargreaves Lansdown head of policy, Tom McPhail, said that it was business as usual for the FCA.

“Much of the FCA’s regulatory agenda on pensions looks like business as usual, with no surprises or new policy announcements; everything set out in their business plan for the retirement market has already been flagged up elsewhere,” he said.

“On the ROR, the retirement pathways address an important consumer need. However we worry the proposed remedies may not achieve the outcomes the FCA intends. They may perpetuate customer disengagement and paper over the income withdrawal risks, leaving investors potentially exposed to as much or even more risk than if the pathways hadn’t been introduced.”

On Monday, the FCA said it would consult on rules to extend the remit of IGC to oversee the value for money of pension drawdown solutions.

Furthermore, the regulator said it will also be looking mandatory for IGCs to report on the firm’s environmental, social and governance issues as well as consumer concerns and stewardship.

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