Pasa launches DB transfer guidance

The Pensions Administration Standards Association (Pasa) launched its defined benefit transfer guidance today (8 July), developing a good practice framework for member protection.

The paper, a Guide to Good Practice, has three key aims including; improving the member experience; improving efficiency for administrators; and improving communications and transparency throughout the process.

As a result, the framework should “achieve the right balance between member protection and an individual’s statutory right to take their pension arrangement in a different form”.

Launching the guidance, Pensions Minster Guy Opperman said: “Transfers give people flexibility when it comes to their pension pots, and they must be fast and safe.

“This guidance gives the clarity needed - for both schemes and members - to ensure they’re done efficiently and transparently. It is a must-read for anyone with a stake in the pension transfer process.”

The guidance was developed by an industry working group, which looked at standard and non-standard cases of DB to DC transfers.

Pasa sponsor of the DB working group, Margaret Snowdon, said: “We are always mindful of the delicate balance between member protection and an individual’s statutory rights, and the fact they shouldn’t be hindered when making legitimate transfers.

“It has therefore been very reassuring that so many professionals joined our working group and under the brilliant leadership of the Chair, James Ellison, worked hard to produce this guidance, taking us into new territory.”

The Pensions Regulator executive director, David Fairs, said it welcomed the launch of the guidance.

“The standardised data template in particular will make the process of moving pension funds more efficient, by making it easier for savers and advisers to get the details they need to make informed decisions," he said.

“The development of the template by the regulators and the industry working together will bring real benefits for providers, advisers and, most importantly, savers themselves.”

DB to DC transfers has become a sticking point for the industry over the past year or so, with the big three, Willis Towers Watson (WTW), Aon and Mercer, being particularly slow over their willingness to improve transfer times.

Last month, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said it was to step up its engagement with adviser, as “too much advice is not of an acceptable standard.

Commenting WTW director, Stewart Patterson, said: “Concern around high levels of transfer activity are understandable, and we must all be vigilant over scams and high fees affecting members who have not been appropriately advised. Today’s Pasa guide is a welcome initiative in boosting support to members who are actively making decisions around transferring out.

“But just because transferring out isn’t right for everyone, doesn’t mean it isn’t right for anyone. In our experience, a more flexible income at retirement could be a better way to meet the needs of around one in three members of some DB schemes.”

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