Origo MD comments on framework outlined in the TRIG Progress Update
Talking on the Progress Update published on Friday by the Transfers and Re-registration Industry Group (TRIG), which makes a number of recommendations for improving the industry’s pension, ISA and GIA transfers, Anthony Rafferty, Managing Director of Origo says:
“Origo welcomes the publication of the industry-wide framework for improving transfers and re-registrations, as outlined by TRIG in its latest Progress Update. The document defines clear steps which, if adopted by the industry, could help bring the entire industry on board in respect of speeding up ISA and GIA transfers and those areas of the pension market that are not transferring within the proposed TRIG timeframes.
“Origo has been operating the industry’s service for pensions transfers for 10 years and is dedicated to improving transfer times for the benefit of consumers and the industry. We were pleased to see that transfers within the Options Transfers community (over 100 financial services brands) were in line with the TRIG recommendations.
“One of the great successes of Origo to date has been in significantly reducing transfer times via the Options Transfers service. Through working with the industry over the years to find practical and workable solutions, we have been able to dramatically cut transfer times among the Options Transfers community from several weeks to an average of 8-12 days (highlighted by TRIG in its original Consultation paper 5/12/16). Now, there is the opportunity to create the same gold standard in transfers (albeit by cash or re-registration) and the same much improved consumer outcome across the industry.
“The TRIG recommendations provide a useful but voluntary framework that requires practical application at operational level if the industry is to help firms that currently are failing to meet the proposed timeframes. This is where Origo can help, enabling firms get to grips with and speed up their processes, bringing them into line with the best in the industry.
“Options’ reduction in transfer times was achieved through the development by Origo of the open Common Declaration Standards, support for best practice and the use and continual development of technology to automate transfer processes. Automation is vital in improving transfer times but it is just one factor. The industry still needs to adopt good practice and standards across the board.
“In this respect, alongside the TRIG guidelines, there has been good work done by PASA, via its Transfers Working Group, which has been tackling variations in transfer times in respect of trust-based occupational schemes. In addition, the Common Declaration Standard (now managed by Criterion) has been instrumental in speeding up transfers between pension schemes by doing away with unnecessary paperwork and communication. The occupational pension sector is a more complex area but it can benefit from the same automation and adoption of standards and Origo looks forward to working with the sector to help improve outcomes for consumers.
“The TRIG document also highlights the requirement for appropriate due diligence and, particularly post pensions freedoms, checks that pensions money is not being transferred into a scam vehicle.
“The safety of consumer pensions money is of paramount importance. Origo developed Options Transfers as a trust-based community and service and all Options members go through a due diligence process before being accepted. While this does not do away with the regulatory need for providers to conduct due diligence as part of the transfer process, members have comfort in knowing every member has been through the same acceptance process.
“The TRIG document also recommends collection and publishing of data to help improve transfer service. Options customers have collectively transferred over £150bn worth of pensions, and Origo has been publishing performance data on transfers since inception. Options members get monthly data bulletins to help inform and assist providers in improving practices and also via special working-groups. The community has a “Heartbeat Group” to review and improve transfer processes with the specific aim of spreading good practice amongst the Options community, to drive down transfer times still further. Members also get access to Origo’s forums, both online and face-to-face, where transfer practitioners actively share their ideas and thoughts on best practice.
“The TRIG recommends that every industry participant should sign up. The alternative, as TRIG points out, could be FCA or legislative action.
“Origo can bring a decade and more of experience of working with the industry to create greater efficiencies and help foster best practice. We look forward to working with more industry participants in both the pensions and investment transfers markets, helping the industry to get to grips with its processes and improve consumer outcomes.