More firms sign up to transfer governance solution initiative

Four more organisations have agreed to sign up to Star, a government backed initiative aimed at delivering a long-term governance solution to transfers, taking the total up to 11 firms.

Barclays, Hargreaves Lansdowne, LV= and Zurich have all “registered interest” in the initiative, following the seven that initially signed up when Star went live on 20 November 2018.

The initiative, which received backing from the Pensions Minister Guy Opperman and other industry heavyweights in October, will look to deliver a framework built by the Transfers and Industry Re-registration Industry Group (TRIG), after the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) highlighted the issue of transfers and re-registration across the asset management industry.

The framework specifies three weeks for an occupational pension transfer, and will aim to deliver benefits to both consumers and firms looking to gain from “consistent and improving standards”.

Criterion MD, Caroline Mansley, said: “We’ve certainly hit the ground running with Star. We set up the brand and website within a matter of weeks and since we went live, we have reached our first XI organisations to make a public commitment.”

Mansley added that the first 30 firms to sign up will receive a founder accreditation mark.

Speaking exclusively to Pensions Age in November 2018, Mansley said the group hopes to have 50 firms signed up by Q2 2019, rising to 200 in the first two years, as it seeks to create a “more consistent” and reliable transfer experience for consumers.

Seven firms including: Standard Life, Aegon, Aviva, Fidelity, Old Mutual, Janus Henderson and DST Funds, have “registered interest” in Star, a project backed by not-for-profit organisations Criterion and TeX, but will not be able to sign up until it is officially registered, expected to be in January.

Once the group has reached 50 sign-ups, a cross industry steering group will be developed, and an independent chair appointed, who will “govern the execution” of the framework.

Additionally, Star will run a bronze, silver and gold accreditation process, rubber stamped by the FCA, in a move which the group hopes will “shine a spotlight” on firms that are underperforming.

According to Criterion, the measures will take roughly two years before consumers will feel the benefit, but will eventually result in speedier transfers, improved control over their money and increased competition.

Firms who sign up to the initiative will pay a £3,000 joining fee and an annual £1,700 fee for maintenance development, which firms could end up paying three times if they qualify for each stream.

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