Posted by Victoria Green on Wednesday 19 August 2015 at 15:21
Have you heard of life hacks? Or even better do you have one you’d like to share? If you’re new to this phrase I’ll quickly explain. It’s about the little things, simple things, you can do that make your life easier, better or more efficient. For instance, using nail polish to identify different keys or using a paperclip to stop the end of the tape getting lost. Easy right? Little things that just make life easier and remove stress.
So are there little changes we can make to make pensions easier? In the world of transfers we’ve tried to do just that – a super hack of little things to make all our lives easier. Little things like; calling a number and getting through to a person who actually knows what transfer case you’re talking about, not a machine. Little things like; removing multiple paper forms and wet signatures and turning it in to one, online secure application form. Sometimes it’s the bigger stuff too, like knowing you can do a speedy transfer with one or 70+ brands on the service.
The awkwardly slow, costly and complex nature of pension transfers back in 2006-2007 were the reason we were asked by the industry to look at solving the problems. So, how do you eat the elephant? Little by little. So we started to eat away at the elephant, solving the problem by looking at the key areas where both consumers and organisations needed these #lifehacks. How can we make contacting each other easier? How can we get rid of the paperwork? What would simplify this process for everyone?
We started with pension-to-annuity transfers, quickly followed by pension-to-pension and drawdown. Today the service is capable of managing in-specie transfers (AKA re-registrations) as well and we’re now a month away from tackling the mammoth that is bulk transfers (watch this space for September launch). Options is designed around life hacks. And being designed out of a need not a want, the service has continued to grow and develop.
Industry body, not-for-profit, pioneer. That is what we are. It’s really a great thing not being commercially motivated as it gives us the ability to really listen to the industry, assess needs and address them effectively. Any profits made are wholly reinvested in to the development of our services. That’s why and how it keeps on evolving. It continues to evolve because of the wonderful community we have. That supportive, innovative group of providers, platforms, SIPP providers and Third-Party-Administrators and many more who all drive the service forward. It is the users of the service that decide, shape and push through all the developments and through their input Options continues to reduce transfer times and improve the way our industry works.
The nicest thing for us is that organisations continue to join – a true testament to the services. We’ve already had another two organisations join this month and we’re pleased to say no-one has ever left the service. We don’t have lifetime contracts with our customers, (and who’d want one?) no one has ever left because, let’s face it… it works. The ability to #lifehack your pensions transfer process saves you not only a significant amount of time, money and paperwork but it also reduces the stresses and strains your organisation will face every day. Little things like instant access to MI, real-time contact with receiving and ceding parties, the removal of paperwork instantly speed up the process never mind the actual automation of the transfer itself - making the service even more efficient.
We could all use a #lifehack or two, so why not in your pension transfer process?
We’ve been expecting you… Mr Bond
Posted by Victoria Green on Tuesday 11 August 2015 at 09:44
KGC recently presented a fun session at the Pensions & Benefits Show 2015, the theme was based on James Bond and sought to emphasise the role technology has to play in today’s pension provision. Amongst others, the session looked at the use of modern gaming technologies like oculus rift. It creates a virtual world where members can see their future lifestyles. They can model and adapt it by changing their contributions and/or changing when they retire. This is probably one of the more sexy bits of technology it gets people excited as the thought of creating a virtual world becomes more of a possibility – just like star trek's holodeck.
We also looked at more boring but necessary uses of technology, such as the growing integration between administration platforms, investment platforms and actuarial modelling tools. Providing real time information so actuaries can say, 'push the button on that buy out - it's the optimum moment’. We felt technological development for Defined Benefits schemes and Defined Contributions schemes had different focuses. For DB more focus is on providing information for schemes and advisers to help with de-risking journeys, whereas DC developments are focused on the member and engaging with them.
An area we touched on which affects both DB and DC members is that of the new DC freedoms. We made a flippant remark about members needing a tax consultant as opposed to an Independent Financial Adviser, but this 'joke' is based on the growing need to understand tax implications on retirement. A number of providers are creating retirement planning tools which take a holistic look at members’ total retirement savings. It’s aimed at directing them to the most appropriate means of taking their retirement income, not only for their lifestyle choices and personal circumstances but also from a tax perspective.
We know most people who have already taken advantage of the freedoms have been members with smaller pots. We’re yet to see members with larger pots of money make their choice. When they do use these tools it can only be seen as a positive even if it's only to help them ask the right questions of an adviser.
But, we’ll increasingly see members wanting to take more sophisticated decisions around how they take their retirement income. Currently many arrangements and particularly trust based schemes, are not looking to provide all the options available under the freedoms. With income drawdown, there may be a reluctance for trustees and employers to be responsible for members in retirement - that's what DB schemes are for. In these circumstances we’ll see members being guided to a suitable vehicle where they can take full advantage of the freedoms, notably income drawdown.
We’ll see members transferring benefits to vehicles specifically set up to provide for DC freedoms - another stream of transfers for administrators to contend with! KGC worked with Origo last year and as part of the work undertaken, we asked third party administrators (TPAs) about the volumes of transfers they transact. We also asked about the man hours needed to carry out the work, which is still quite a manual process. Interestingly, most TPAs weren't able to provide this information, they did say it was an area that caused them pain and was a constant source of complaints - members' faults obviously as they lose things and forget deadlines for guarantees.
So, back to ‘Bond’ - using technology to help pensions. With DB to DC transfers, transfers to 'freedom vehicles' and ordinary transfers on the increase, who can help administrators with a technology solution for the growing number of transfers?
Lesley Carline, MA FPMI
For more information on how technology is developing in pensions and particularly administration contact Lesley for the latest and sixth KGC administration Survey.
Where next for piñata’s…sorry, pensions.
Posted by Victoria Green on Monday 20 July 2015 at 14:56
We invited Tim Middleton from the PMI to tell us a little more about his views on the recent pension freedoms what it means for DC and his views on whether the recent changes demonstrate good news or bad news for organisations and members – are pensions the next piñata for the government?
“On 16 June, George Osborne made the first formal announcement concerning public demand for the new decumulation options. He announced that 60,000 DC members had taken advantage of their new options and that approximately £1 billion had been withdrawn from DC funds. Calculated as a mean average, this works out at less than £17,000 each.
In the absence of any detailed information, it is difficult to assess the circumstances of those who have to date chosen to cash out. We don’t know what other forms of pension saving they might have or what other financial assets they might own. However, a DC pot of £17,000 is only likely to be of value when taken as a cash sum. Anecdotal evidence suggests that those with larger funds have not so far been part of Osborne’s stampede and fears of feckless fiftysomethings blowing their life savings have proved unfounded.
However, it is clear that the Government is not entirely satisfied with progress to date. Osborne has also announced that HM Treasury will consult in July on problems that have arisen that prevent eligible DC members from accessing their cash. The principal area of concern is the imposition of exit penalties. These, in the main concern older pension policies, representing adviser commission. Osborne is suggesting that a cap may be applied to prevent ‘excessive’ exit penalties being applied. At face value, this seems reasonable, and would provide a policy that could happily be adopted. However, viewed in ideological terms, this is actually rather odd. Osborne is actually proposing direct governmental intervention in a market in order to restrict costs to consumers. This seems somewhat at odds with the views of a Government which baulked at the suggestion of rent controls or fixed energy prices.
Whilst George Osborne appears to be championing the consumers right to choice, we should reserve the right to query his motives. Why does the Treasury have such a strong vested interest in seeing cash taken out of DC pension savings? It certainly appears that George Osborne sees his Freedom and Choice agenda as a means of increasing tax receipts. Pensions policy should be formed with the long-term objective of improving retirement prospects for citizens rather than the short-term financial objectives of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. We need to be cautious of a Government policy that seems increasingly inclined to view the pensions system as a form of financial piñata.”
Tim Middleton, Technical Consultant, PMI
There’s too many of them…
Posted by Victoria Green on Monday 20 July 2015 at 14:49
As you’ll know if you’ve seen any zombie film, there is strength in numbers. It can be overwhelming, unmanageable and frankly quite frightening. Like our zombies – slow, unnerving and lots of them – the very thought of bulk transfers can make some of us hide behind the sofa. But what exactly is it about bulk transfers that makes us wince?
1. They’re vast
There is not just one member’s transfer to consider, there are hundreds and even thousands of members in some larger schemes.
2. They’re complicated
No, it’s not just as simple as hitting the play button on the DVD player. Conducting a bulk transfer is complicated. Consent has to be gathered from every single member (if the scheme is contract based) and then there is all the information that has to be pulled together, checked, updated, rechecked – all of which can take weeks or months.
3. They’re risky
Okay, not as risky as facing a horde of flesh eating monsters with nothing but a tea towel to hand, but still, bulk transfers can be risky business. The fact is with any manual transfer process there are more risks involved, and when you suddenly multiply your volumes by a few hundred the risk of errors, naturally increases exponentially.
Put all of that together and add some communication black holes where information might be forgotten, misplaced or lost during the back and forth between organisations, and you have yourself all the ingredients needed to make a decent pension transfer horror film. Our villains - volumes, risk and complexity. Our victims - the unsuspecting scheme members who could be exposed to out of market risks and delays. And, last but not least, the hero of this piece? Who has the antidote that can save mankind? The Scheme Administrator of course!
Whether you are an employer, a third-party administrator, an employee benefits consultant or a master trust, bulk transfers no longer have to be dealt with via paper and unsecure spreadsheets. Origo is in the process of developing a bulk transfers service enabling all parties to save time and reduce costs while securing and streamlining the entire process and removing paperwork.
Origo, the eCommerce standards and services body, has been providing the industry’s only complete transfers service for over eight years – the Options Transfers service. The service enables the industry to reduce costs, drive efficiencies and improve member outcomes through faster individual workplace pension transfers. And later this year they are releasing the first ever service to tackle bulk transfers – much to the relief of the Scheme Administrator and the member hiding behind the sofa.
The new bulk transfers service will enable organisations to benefit from the existing Options functionality that has already reduced transfer times from months to minutes. The service will enable organisations to:
- Remove paperwork
- Speed up processing
- Simplify and standardise CSV files
- Improve security
- Access full MI and audit trails
- Receive quick and clear status updates for teams
- Quickly and securely contact ceding or receiving parties
- Simply manage and gather member consent
There may be many challenges to effecting and controlling bulk transfers and while it may seem like there’s no silver bullet (or in our zombie apocalypse scenario, no cure!) Origo has worked with the industry, to identify common problematic processes and provide organisations with the tools they need to process bulk transfers in a secure environment while speeding up the entire process. Cue dramatic ending to the horror zombie movie (dun-dun-duuuuun!) and put an end to any hiding behind the sofa thanks to Options and faster transfer times.
To find out more about Options Transfers please visit www.optionstransfers.co.uk
Your 60 seconds starts now!
Posted by Victoria Green on Monday 20 July 2015 at 14:34
The People’s Pension talks pension transfers with Origo.
For many organisations, transferring pensions brings several things to mind. Firstly, paperwork. Mountains of discharge and LTA forms which can get lost, need re-work and then lots of chasing. Secondly, the time it takes to conduct a paper-based manual transfer. It can be a slow process which can take weeks and involve the time of a dedicated team, or teams in some cases. Lastly, lack of control and the associated risks. Without efficient case tracking the reconciliation of cases, and various monies, becomes an arduous task, making it all the more difficult to keep the member up to speed with their transfer. But, it doesn’t have to be this way, there is another way, an easier way which gives you full control – automation.
Justine Pattullo (eServices Adoption and Marketing Manager, Origo Services) interviewed Chris Reilly (Pension Transfer Manager, B&CE) to find out why B&CE chose to automate their transfers through Origo’s Options Transfers service – the industry’s most complete pensions transfers service.
Identifying needs: How did you recognise the need for faster transfers within your organisation?
At B&CE and The People’s Pension we are continuously looking to improve both the efficiency of our processes and the service offered to members of our pension schemes. There wasn’t any one driver for us but as the volume of members grew in our schemes, so did the number of transfer requests.
We knew there were opportunities for us to continue improving our transfer processing and signing up to the Options Transfer service was a logical step for us.
Key benefits: What did you see as the main benefits to automating your transfers?
We were fortunate in that we have never had long turnaround times and were able to process our transfers efficiently before we implemented the system. But we were, of course, still hamstrung by having to use the postal service and the inevitable paper chase that exists when processing transfers outside of the Options service.
Paper discharge forms, chasing to ceding schemes for updates, information being sent to the wrong departments, all are now thankfully a thing of the past.
Choosing a service: Why Options Transfers?
We analysed the level of transfer requests we received, both as a receiving and ceding scheme, to see which other institutions we had the most contact with.
Armed with this information we could investigate services in the market to see what offering would best meet our requirements. All of the other providers we knew we had to regularly interact with were signed up and using the Options platform. So market coverage was really key for us.
Getting set up: Did you receive all the support you needed from the Origo team?
The set up and system orientation were excellent. Like many things when you first look at a new system it can appear daunting. But two things really helped our teams get to grips with the service. Firstly, the support from Origo was very comprehensive, we had in house training and being able to work on cases with the experts there was very useful.
Secondly, the system itself is intuitive. If you understand the transfer process as our teams do, then getting to grips with the service is quite straightforward. The interface is simple and easy to follow. Once you have navigated a few cases it becomes second nature.
Impressive features: What surprised you about the service?
Well the speed of the system and the overall ease of use was refreshing.
A recurring problem we used to face, before Options, was matching and identifying payments when they came in. Now every payment has a reference and is easily reconcilable.
Team benefits: What are the main benefits you have experienced since going live on the service?
There are many benefits of the service, but being able to ask members just to sign our transfer application and then using the Common Declaration as the ceding scheme discharge form has just cut out so many steps from the typical non Options transfer.
Historically the industry has asked any member wishing to transfer their pension to fill in at least two forms. One to tell the receiving provider they want to transfer their old pot, and another to tell the ceding scheme they want to transfer out. By simplifying the process through the Common Declaration it is now much simpler. Members are no longer faced with a long discharge form full of technical jargon they don’t understand. They can just sign the application form and let the two providers deal with the administration.
Member benefits: Do you feel Options Transfers has enhanced the service you are providing to members?
Yes, and in many ways.
Using the service simplifies the process for all involved, both for transfers in and out of any organisation. Members can sign one form with their new provider and not have to deal with further forms coming through the post weeks after the original request.
The whole process can now be completed in days, rather than weeks. We can see the status of all our live cases so our administration teams can monitor and review the transfer pipeline which allows us to proactively review cases or get updates in real time.
B&CE, the provider of The People’s Pension, joined Origo’s Options Transfers Service in April 2015. Alongside 70 of the other leading financial services brands now speedily transferring pensions, Origo expects to see more Occupational Pension Schemes join and enjoy the benefits of the Options Transfers service.
Annuities are dead. Long live….. Annuities?
Posted by Victoria Green on Tuesday 16 June 2015 at 11:23
In 2012, the Financial Conduct Authority found that 60% of annuities were purchased from the provider with whom the individual had saved. It was further reported that 80% of these annuitants could have got a better deal had they only shopped around, a figure which jumps to 90% had they qualified for an Enhanced Annuity. This was what the Open Market Option (OMO) was created for, however 40 years on and OMO has yet to fulfil its promise.
So fast forward to today and we have a market constrained by inertia. An inertia that has clearly been a driving factor in creation of the Pension Freedoms legislation upon us. We anticipate new products and annuity structures, more people choosing Income Drawdown or Phased Retirement, and potentially the resale of purchased annuities. Retirement is changing, and products are changing with it.
So while annuities are no longer the only option, they’ve not quite been retired (pardon the pun) the way we thought they would be. And this can be a good thing. Guaranteed income will always provide a level of comfort certain consumers want.
One thing is clear though. It’s all about engagement - consumer engagement. How can we generate enough excitement and interest around pension choices to encourage the consumer to actively engage with the industry?
That’s a big question, and it’s one we could debate from dawn until dusk without clear resolution. However there are small steps we can all take as an industry to make inroads, and that’s just what the ‘Common Quotation Request Form’ (CQRF) is doing.
An established health and lifestyle questionnaire developed by pension annuity providers to help underwrite enhanced pension annuities, the CQRF form enables specialist annuity providers to determine whether a customer may benefit from extra annuity income in retirement if their life expectancy is reduced by virtue of their health and/or lifestyle. For example, if they smoke or have a health issue such as diabetes or a heart condition.
The original CQRF, now rebranded as the ‘Retirement Health Form’ (RHF), was designed for use only by intermediaries and over time subsequent updated versions of the form been made available on a website for intermediaries to download. This website, has now been revamped by a forum of specialist annuity providers, working with Origo and The Annuity Exchange. This includes the majority of the annuity providers who specialise in offering underwritten enhanced annuities, that is, Aviva, Canada Life, Just Retirement, Legal & General, LV=, Retirement Advantage, Partnership Assurance and Prudential.
As well as the very latest RHF available for intermediaries, the website now offers access to a consumer version of the questionnaire, helping consumers to take control over their potential income vehicle through retirement.
Access to the intermediary version is via adviser.retirementhealthform.co.uk and the consumer version of the site is via www.retirementhealthform.co.uk, with the ongoing management of the website, including any new developments, supported by Origo, the eCommerce Standards and Services body for the Financial Services industry.
Speaking on behalf of the Annuity Providers Forum on the new developments, Tim Gosden, of Retirement Advantage said: “A new website was needed primarily to ensure that both consumers and intermediaries can download the latest version of the questionnaire. We recognised that some consumers prefer to purchase their annuity without the involvement of an intermediary and so a separate version of the RHF was required for them. The facility for intermediaries to be notified of new versions of the questionnaire is likely to be extremely popular and will hopefully ensure that fewer ‘older’ versions of the CQRF remain in use.
“While intermediaries will usually want to download the complete form, consumers can now select and download only the sections of the questionnaire that are relevant to their personal circumstances. This simple step makes the process easier for consumers and will hopefully reduce the resistance people have when faced with what appears to be a complex form.”
Herding cats? I've just the tonic
Posted by Victoria Green on Friday 15 May 2015 at 14:36
There is this gin bar in Edinburgh… It’s been in the same location for many, many years. I don’t get to go that often, but it surprises me that when I do suggest it to friends, how little some know of its existence. But in certain Edinburgh circles, it’s an institution. The service is excellent, the ambience is perfect and the cocktails, well… they’re amazing, of course! Anyway, the point being that for some, this bar is like their gin to their tonic and has been for years… and word is slowly getting out to those savvy gin drinkers.
I often think that this is similar to Origo. I’ve been in the industry for 17 years now (how did that happen?) and I know that there are some individuals who haven’t heard about Origo, and then there is a growing community that hold us very dear to their hearts - and this is why:
Put simply, the UK’s financial services landscape is large and complex and there are wild cats running in every direction. Margins are getting tighter and tighter, regulatory change is constant and so risk management is ever more present. As a result, the role that technology plays is getting bigger and bigger. On the face of it, our industry may look a bit disparate however, there are common problems experienced across the board. Examples include; getting pension valuations, logging into portals and platforms, setting up Auto Enrolment schemes and transferring pensions and other savings.
Technology is key to solving these common problems however, it needs to be entrusted to an eCommerce-dedicated industry body. As the industry’s eCommerce Standards and Services body, Origo has developed an instinctive ability to herd cats and set them off in one problem-solving direction. With over 25 years of experience in collaboration and internet technology, Origo is a well-established body that delivers and manages trusted industry solutions. For example, Origo’s Options Transfers service has consistently reduced pension transfers times from 51 working days to an average of 6 calendar days for over 70 leading brands – despite the total value of assets being transferred regularly going above £1bn every month. Pension transfers is a common, but a necessary process and, if handled manually, can be unnecessarily costly in all sorts of respects – but finding a solution that is tried, tested and well-established, needn’t be like hunting for a gem of a gin bar.
Email security – ‘the biggest challenge in online services in the years to come’
Posted by Victoria Green on Tuesday 23 December 2014 at 15:33
The recent hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment and the hacking of South Korea’s nuclear plant operator are two very high profile examples of the new threat that industries and businesses are subject to in the Internet age.
The World Wide Web / Internet was just 25 years old in 2014 yet for most businesses it is vital to their operation. This is particularly so for the financial services world.
Think about everything you do online that just a few short years ago would have been paper based. Writing letters and sending documents is one basic task that has been changed forever. Around the world, customers and financial services providers exchange letters and documents containing data and information, often of a personal and confidential nature, probably every second of the day.
Whereas we used to trust the postal services to deliver those letters and documents safely and securely for us, nowadays more often than not we will send them via email. And we do that because it is fast, cheap and convenient; which is great for business.
The problem is that it is also great for hackers and criminals, who know full well that they can access people’s computers and emails so easily that unless protected the data we send is pretty much an open book.
One UK based ISP recently wrote to its customers admitting that security had “become a big issue in 2014” requiring it to introduce “triple-level virus engines” to its mail system “stopping thousands of infected files per day”. Security it went on to say is “something we see as the biggest challenge in online services in the years to come”.
There are now emails circulating that offer to hack any email system for as little as $350.
Criminals have quickly cottoned on to the opportunities that putting malware etc on our computers provides and now most companies have robust systems, procedures and processes in place to try to prevent malicious attacks from outside the company. The problem with emails, however, is that on their journey from sender to recipient they can sit on several servers, over which neither party has any control.
Worryingly, in a recent survey conducted for Origo across a range of financial services organisations, while 8 out of 10 large companies said they exchanged sensitive data on a daily basis, over one third (35%) stated that they never secure emails prior to sending internally or outside their business. This equates to some 44% of sensitive emails being sent unprotected and illustrates the vulnerability of email usage within financial services.
Sending an email that has no protection is like sending a postcard through the post – no company would contemplate sending confidential email in that way yet they do the digital equivalent every day. Any hacker who wants to read an unsecured email can do so with relative ease.
For financial services companies, the risk of customers’ personal details being accessed and leaked online or used for criminal purposes is a reputational hit they cannot afford to take. That’s not taking into account any penalties imposed for breaching laws and regulation. Such fines can be significant.
The best way to protect emails is to install an enterprise wide system that uses military strength encryption that ensures only the sender and the designated recipient can read the contents.
Unipass Securemail is powered by Trend Micro, one of the largest global Internet security companies, and has been developed to provide a turnkey solution for companies, delivering military-strength NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) encryption security.
Currently Unipass Securemail is trusted and used by over 65,000 registered users and its user base is growing rapidly. The service is flexible and scalable, meaning it can be used by organisations both large and small. It has already been adopted by some of the leading financial organisations in the UK financial market, including Royal London.
Fully delivering the ‘auto’ in auto enrolment
Posted by Victoria Green on Friday 20 June 2014 at 16:20
There appears to be a general misconception that auto enrolment is all about pensions. It’s an understandable assumption. Certainly, for the end consumer, the introduction of auto enrolment is about saving money on a regular basis, maybe for the first time in their lives, giving them a pension pot to draw on in their retirement. But behind the scenes there is so much that has to happen to make auto enrolment a success. For SME employers there is a raft of legislation and compliance to get to grips with, while the pensions industry, of course, has to put in place the systems and the processes, efficiently, compliantly and cost effectively, to ensure the process of auto enrolment runs smoothly for everyone involved.
Auto enrolment is one of those ‘once in a generation’ pieces of legislation that brings sweeping change to a market. The early stages of auto enrolment have been a big success story, but we are still in the rollout period and with several years of staging still to come. As the volumes increase and the movement of members from scheme to scheme starts to pick up, there is still the potential for bottlenecks to occur and for member outcomes to potentially suffer as a result.
The Government’s ‘Pot Follows Member’ system, will help ensure people do not end up with a number of small pension pots at retirement as they inevitably move jobs and employers through their working lives. This will see the number of pensions transfers increase rapidly over the next few years, and occupational pension schemes and administrators will need a robust, efficient, cost effective, built-for purpose means of transferring data between providers in order to deal with this movement and, importantly, to best support the wide variety of members with different needs from various employment types. That is something that must not be forgotten or overlooked along the way; the member must always be at the heart of the process.
To date, many trust-based pension transfer processes still operate on a paper-based system. This is costly and can result in delays of weeks or months in members receiving their first pension income payment, from an annuity or other retirement income plan. Clearly, that is unsustainable in an auto enrolment world, as the word auto implies.
It is also unnecessary, as our Options system was purpose built to speed up the transfer process between providers in the contract pensions space and, in particular, to improve the Open Market Option (OMO) experience for consumers. Options, established in 2008, has successfully reduced the time taken for transfers to be completed from over 50 days to just a handful of days, with some now completed in just 45 minutes. Options has now been developed to meet the needs of occupational pension schemes and administrators, and help improve the experience for the trust-based scheme member, while significantly reducing costs for schemes and administrators.
In the auto enrolment world, the ability to handle capacity is going to be key as the number of small pots needing transferred will grow exponentially. Our Options service again can support organisations here. Service capacity is not an issue; the service currently handles over 40,000 transfers, safely and successfully, every month, 25% of which are small pot transfers of less than £10,000, and has managed £40bn of pension transfers since launch. Despite these large volumes, the service is currently running at only a fraction of its overall capacity, and so has plenty of scope for the wave of transfers to come.
Auto enrolment is not just about pensions, it’s about automation and introducing robust, efficient processes to address the needs of each individual member. Helping to ensure ‘at retirement’ readiness and enabling people to make the most of their pot, or pots, so that when the time comes they can maintain the lifestyle they want with their well-earned retirement funds. So it keeps the member at the heart of the process.
All the fours - 40, 40,000 & £40Bn
Posted by Victoria Green on Friday 28 March 2014 at 16:26
A new NAPF survey, published in February 2014, found '81% of respondents - both pension schemes and business members who are providing services to those schemes - said that the volume of change expected by the sector in the next 12 months could really start to get in the way of their ability to provide a good level of service to scheme members.' This feeling of uncertainty and identified need for an improved service to members was echoed by all who attended and spoke at the recent Origo ‘Pension Transfers and Pot-Follows-Member’ Insight Seminar.
On Tuesday, 11th February 2014, Origo’s seminar brought together some of the industry’s most influential names and faces and included key speakers from Legal & General, IRESS, Standard Life and LV=. A range of topics were discussed from ‘Pot-Follows-Member – pipedream or reality?’ to ‘A view from a Mastertrust’. The transfer of pensions was the focus for the day and it was that topic which got attendees all fired up. Paul McBride, Head of Governance, Legal & General made a compelling statement ‘regardless of whether pot does, or doesn’t, follow member, improving the service to members must be high on the agenda for organisations’. So regardless of what might or might not happen, organisations should be taking what steps they can to ensure an improved member experience is achieved. He went on to say that an automated transfer solution such as Options can be an essential part of this improved service for occupational schemes and their administrators; as it has already helped so many organisations in the DC pensions market.
Many other good points and issues were also raised on the day by attendees as well as speakers. The Origo Common Declarations did raise a few questions, with a feeling in the room of ‘is it really that easy?’. As Nick Green (speaker) explained, yes it is and it is very much a working solution. Developed by cross-industry agreement Common Declarations is a set of wording which is used by receiving schemes which removes the need for discharge forms and simplifies the whole process saving significant times and costs which are normally dedicated to that stage. This takes weeks off the application process and improves service to the member while removing paperwork.
The Common Declarations are just one part of the Options offering which make it easier for organisations to do business with each other, while making it a simpler, quicker process for the member. A real testament to just how popular the service is what we like to call ‘all the fours’. There are over 40 providers already using the service (60 brands in total). With over 40,000 transfers completed successfully, and securely, on average monthly, and this number is still growing. Finally, a grand (and whopping!) total of over £40Bn has been transferred via Options since it was originally established back in 2008.
There was a shared recognition that by introducing a reliable and established automated transfer service, you could not only continue to improve service to members but you'll also have complete control over the transfers, with a full electronic audit trail. Making it easier, faster and safer for all parties, especially the member.