Star initiative reveals industy transfer accreditations

The Star initiative has awarded its first round of accreditations, in what has been described as the "biggest piece of industry collaboration for decades".

Since its launch in 2019, a total of 76 firms have signed up to the cross-industry initiative, which is backed by the regulators and government.

Of these 76 firms, 18 have now been awarded an accreditation based on at least nine consecutive months’ data, with each organisation awarded a gold, silver or bronze rating.

Five providers were awarded an occupational pensions accreditation, with Standard Life awarded a Gold, while Legal & General was awarded silver, and Aegon UK, Nest Corporation and Phoenix Life were awarded bronze.

The initiative also showed the average transfer time for each of the categories, revealing that the average ceding party times for accredited transfers was 12.7 days for personal pensions, and 21.9 days for occupational pensions.

However, the initiative emphasised that the accreditations are based, not only on the overall transfer time, but a range of previously agreed key performance indicators, as there a lot of mitigating factors to consider when reviewing the overall performance of an organisation.

Organisations are judged using a points based metric system and scored on several key areas, including how they communicate with their customers on that journey, for instance, and what percentage of their electronic transfers were reported for the accreditation process.

The accreditation thresholds were set through industry collaboration by the Star Accreditation Steering Group. The Star delivery team is made up of members of Criterion and TeX.

The accreditations were expected to be awarded in earlier this year but were delayed in light of concerns that three months of data was too short a timeframe and only provided a snapshot of performance.

Commenting on the news, Star Steering Group chair, Andrew Marker, stated: "We believe that this has been the biggest piece of industry collaboration for decades and it has been both complicated and challenging to reach this stage, and participating organisations have put in some hard yards to getting to where we are now.

"It has been testing to reach a consensus and make progress and if it was easy, it would have been tackled years ago. I am delighted that after an intense and sustained period of work, the industry has galvanised to drive forward a scheme whose goal is to improve customer outcomes.

"Star measures the performance of companies when executing transfers, which provides regulators, customers, and their financial advisers with clear evidence of how firms are behaving and shows a clear commitment to focus on improving their performance.

"As well as having happier clients, participating firms will also benefit from greater certainty in dealing with counterparties, leading to fewer queries and lower administration costs.

"All Star participants should be applauded for their efforts, and of course, special credit should go to the organisations who have reached bronze, silver, or gold accreditations.

"We encourage all firms who are not involved with STAR to join – it shows that you care about good customer outcomes, remain focused on timely investment transfers, and can evidence it with an accreditation.”

Adding to this, Association of British Insurers head of long-term savings policy, Rob Yuille, stated: "Transfers are a key part of good customer service and healthy competition.

"People will only transfer pensions and investments a few times in their lives, so it is really important to get it right, for each customer’s experience, for each firm’s reputation and that of the whole industry.

"Smoother transfers can only be achieved through collaboration, so STAR’s accreditation framework, spanning different types of pensions and investments, is a big step forward and builds on the improvements to transfers delivered by the industry over the years.

"To continue to improve, we encourage more firms to participate in STAR, to measure performance transparently, based on evidence of outcomes and a common understanding of good practice across the whole industry.”

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