Pasa working group backs statement season; warns against common valuation date

The Pensions Administration Standards Association (Pasa) says it supports the introduction of a statement season, which would see defined contribution (DC) schemes used for auto-enrolment (AE) sending annual benefit statements within a time-limited window.

The organisation’s Benefit Statements Working Group examined the issue and backed the idea as long as the initiative “is undertaken in a measured and timely way, and focuses on an appropriate common publication date”.

It warned that schemes and administrators could face difficulties if the proposals focused on imposition of a common valuation date, which it said would inevitably provide out of date information by the time members viewed their statements, and that schemes and administrators may encounter significant difficulties and additional unnecessary costs.

Additionally, Pasa’s working group called for the statement season to be developed alongside the Pensions Dashboards Programme and suggested that annual benefit statements should be made available by post, email or via the internet.

It added that the future could see members being able to access up to date valuations of their DC AE benefits on a single page, which would make the requirement for a statement season less pressing.

The purpose of the working group is to develop and deliver Pasa’s position on the content and delivery of simpler statements, the introduction of a statement season, to identify positive regulatory or legislative changes, to create guidance and to respond to consultations.

Pasa board director, Girish Menezes, commented: “Consistent messaging around pension savings is imperative and the introduction of a statement season could be a really useful way of engaging and capturing people’s interest.

“Most will end up with several pension pots over their working life. Having access to core information across all these pots, at the same time each year, would allow them to compare their arrangements and take a holistic view – empowering them to make better informed saving and retirement choices.

“As with most things, there will be some resource and cost challenges involved with trying to achieve this in a streamlined and synchronised fashion, we have considered these in our paper to come to some sensible conclusions.”

Pasa Benefit Statements Working Group chair, Helen Ball, said: “We support the concept of a statement season and believe the potential benefits are clear. However, the idea of common publication and valuation dates need careful consideration.

“A common valuation date would be unnecessarily cumbersome and not deliver much in the way of ultimate benefit. It’s important for a statement season to work alongside technological enhancements, such as dashboards, to ensure longevity. Access solutions – such as web, post, email - also need careful review.

“Ultimately, if all of the information is available online throughout the year, the requirement of a statement season naturally falls away over time and any related legislation should take this into account at the outset.”

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