Pension Funds Insider

Pension Funds Insider brings the latest pensions news and industry insights; from investment and governance updates to new mandate appointments and pensions regulatory information.

The Road Ahead is Under Construction

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We are all waiting for the expected regulations on transfers, bringing in the curbs to the statutory right to transfer.  PSIG has battled long and hard for legislation to help trustees do the right thing by members tempted by dodgy offers, so we are fully supportive of the DWP regulations to come, and indeed, have helped form them. 

 The regulations clipping the statutory right to transfer couldn’t be more timely, because a small research study we recently undertook showed us that trustees and providers are tending towards just paying out transfers these days, despite signs of a scam, because the right to transfer applies. Yes, that’s the easy route, but it is not helping members.
As a voluntary industry group, set up to reduce pension scams by the only means available to us, ie through good practice, due diligence and sound judgment, we had to seriously think what we do next.  Is our job done?  Do we get a big tick or a gold star?  Well, yes and no.  We definitely deserve a gold star for what we’ve achieved, so take a bow Tommy Burns, Ben Fairhead, Matthew Swynnerton, John Wilson, Roger Berry, Kevin Whitmore, Phil Warner, Rob O’Sullivan, Colin Miller and David James.   Gold stars all round!
But is our job done? No, it merely evolves.  So what next?
PSIG has come of age. Our Code is recognised as the place to go for information on how to protect members from scammers and fraud.  The law is now on our side, so we can concentrate on helping the industry with information on “how” to comply with regulations and beat the scammers.  We will therefore be publishing Version 3.0 of the Code to coincide with and to compliment the new regulations and the guidance from TPR.  I am delighted to say that, despite the gruelling work for the last year especially, the PSIG team is enthusiastic about a new version and improving our help to the industry.
We are committed to continuing to challenge both industry and regulation to ensure good outcomes for consumers and we are also keen to expand and enhance our scams intelligence-sharing forum to include an online database that can be added to, interrogated and used to report into Action Fraud, so everyone can see what’s happening in the scams landscape, resources can be assigned and action taken against fraudsters.
We have been challenged on the definition of a pension scam.  Like some others, we share the view that the term “scam” is too “cheeky chappy” to portray the real harm and seriousness of people’s pension savings being pinched or eroded.  It gives the image of a Del Boy, a lovable rogue who makes a bit on the side.  The reality is much crueller than that, as many victims can tell you. Fraud is also quite hard to pin down, but if we use the term more broadly, the shoe fits most scams by deception and also fits the skimming of fees too.  You’ll see us use the “fraud” word more and more.
With statutory backing for due diligence and good practice, we will be launching an independent accreditationscheme for schemes and providers to demonstrate that they comply with regulations and follow good practice.  We hope to include SIPP and SSAS providers in this given the anxiety around those products recently. Scheme members should feel reassured by such accreditation while scammers and rogues should be wary.
We will soon update our website to be more interactive and content rich. Our current website was built by me showcasing my rather poor web skills, but we have asked KBPR to help us create a better platform going forward.
And finally, we will continue to fight for fair treatment of victims of scams through a tweak to tax law to stop HMRC automatically benefitting from victim’s mistakes.
Now for the awkward bit. We will need funding to make all this happen. We have been very lucky so far that industry specialists have been so willing to help us, but we need to do more, so we will be asking the industry, that is you, dear reader, to step up and support us financially. Our campaign will launch soon, so please look out for it and share it with your boss or whoever holds the purse strings.
It’s an exciting time for PSIG and for members protection.   I hope the industry will continue to appreciate and support us; we are your and your members’ voice in this area.
Margaret Snowdon, Chair of PSIG