It's been an interesting 18 months in the world of defined benefit (DB) pension transfers.
Everyone (and I include the FCA on this) has been finding their feet and getting to grips with the best approach to this very complicated topic.
With numerous consultation papers and policy statements being released over the last year, even the most robust DB review processes have needed to be updated. What's more, the changes are likely to keep coming.
Against this backdrop of uncertainty and evolving requirements, we decided to create a guide to help support advisers. We took it from the angle of a file check; exactly what would we like to see on a 'good' DB transfer file.
We drew on our own experience, the feedback we've had from the regulator, the various papers that have been released, and the good practice we have seen.
We also factored in the results of a survey we carried out which looked at the level of DB transfer work done in the last year by advisers, and the particular blind spots they felt they had. The survey also allowed them to pose specific questions, which we then ensured were addressed via the paper.
What we've produced in response is a plain English guide which offers tips firms can use to apply to their process immediately. The main points covered are:
- Detail, detail, detail - the more there is on the file, the easier it will be to demonstrate suitability.
- Personalisation - just throwing life cover quotes or Selectapension/ O&M outputs on file does not equate to a suitable file. It's all about what's relevant to that client's individual circumstances.
- Suitability reports - these should always be client-friendly, but more than ever, this is the time to introduce colour, graphics and tables. Basically, you're after anything that will help explain a very complex subject in language clients can understand.
The guide also covers the changes related to the requirements for an appropriate pension transfer analysis (Apta) and transfer value comparator (TVC) that are now in force, as well as some of the changes in the most recent policy statement. We are already looking forward to updating the guide with the next raft of changes!
We hope you find it interesting and would love any feedback.