Wednesday, 21 September 2016 12:43

Pensions industry 'doing spectacularly badly' on transfers

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Ben Cocks, director at Altus Ben Cocks, director at Altus

A common governance body for pension transfers is needed to overcome the problems that currently exist, as the industry is “doing spectacularly badly”.

That was the suggestion from Ben Cocks, director at Altus, this morning, at the AMPS Conference for Sipp providers in London attended by 80 leading figures from the sector.

He told delegates: “The challenge of transfers can’t be solved by the Sipp industry on its own. Unless we all do things in a consistent way it’s never going to work.

“I think there’s a recognition at some level we need some common governance body, as no one part of the industry can do it on its own.

“A common goverance body would be a very useful thing to have.”

The regulator cares about the issue and it has challenged the industry to improve transfers, he said, adding one of the key focuses has been on the variability in transfer times. In-specie pension transfers are particularly poor, he explained.

He showed a chart showing the best time for in-specie transfers was six weeks and the worst was 24 weeks.

He said: “How are we doing? I think we’re doing spectacularly badly.”

A number of questions about transfers were put to the audience, with the questions and results shown below:

How well does the industry serve customers on in-specie transfers today?

A: Generally OK - 33.3%
B: Not well, but volumes are very low – 29.2%
C: Badly and we need to improve – 29.2%
D: What is an in-specie transfer – 8.3%

Will demand for in-specie increase post freedoms?

A: No, demand will stay low 10.4%
B: Yes, it will increase over time 62.5%
C: Yes, it is already increasing 16.7%
D: Not if we don’t tell customers it’s available 10.4%

What needs to be done to improve in-specie transfers?

A: Nothing, it’s fine as it is - 6.5%
B: We can work together as industry to fix this - 56.5%
C: Regulator will need to step in - 37%

Mr Cocks reported that demand for in-specie transfers currently is between 2% and 30% of all pension transfers.

Reasons for low demand included that it is not possible in some cases, customers and some advisers are not aware that is possible, but mostly it takes too long.

Mr Cocks’ firm, Altus Business Systems, aims to improve the operational efficiency of the financial services industry.

Last modified on Thursday, 22 September 2016 14:39
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