Periodic review of pension transfers redress guidance
September 6, 2021
What has happened?
The FCA’s Finalised Guidance 17/9 (FG17/9) sets out how firms should calculate redress to be paid for unsuitable defined benefit (DB) pension transfers. When it published FG17/9 in 2017, the FCA committed to reviewing the Guidance at least every four years.
The FCA issued a statement in September 2021, the purpose of which is:
- To confirm that the FCA intends to start a periodic review of the redress guidance by the end of 2021, and
To set out its expectations of firms while the review is ongoing, including clarifying how firms should be applying or interpreting the Guidance in certain areas.
What do you need to do?
The Guidance is used by firms to put consumers back in the position they would have been in if they had remained in their DB scheme. It is done by calculating appropriate redress where:
- Consumers received advice from the firm which was negligent or contravened relevant requirements, and
- If the advice had not been negligent or had complied with the relevant requirements, the consumer would not have transferred all or part of the cash value of accrued benefits from the DB pension scheme into the personal pension scheme.
The Guidance is based on the approach taken for the Pensions Review of the 1990s, with the assumptions updated periodically since. The assumptions were last updated when the FCA published FG17/9 in 2017, to take account of changes in the pensions environment.
The FCA has commented that, while the periodic review is ongoing, firms should continue to:
- assess complaints about unsuitable advice fairly, consistently and promptly,
- calculate any redress due in line with the current approach, and
- comply promptly with any offer of redress accepted by the consumer
As part of the process of preparing for the review, the FCA has identified some areas, noted below, where firms may also benefit from clarification on how redress should be calculated when following the Guidance.
Firms should ensure that they, or any actuarial specialist they have outsourced a redress calculation to, take the following actions when determining the amount of redress to offer. Firms not meeting these expectations should make appropriate changes to their processes before issuing any new redress offers.
Where firms have already carried out calculations that do not meet the expectations in the Guidance, it may be appropriate to review those calculations and contact consumers where they determine that additional redress may be due.
Redress should enable consumers to cover the cost of ongoing product charges and regular adviser charges up to normal retirement age, both on the transferred pension and the amount of redress.
For prospective loss cases:
- The redress amount should allow for personal pension charges, where known, up to a maximum of 0.75% per year and allow for regular adviser charges on top of this.
- The pre-retirement discount rate should be netted down to allow for ongoing product charges and regular adviser charges in percentage terms up to normal retirement age.
- Regular adviser charges should be assumed to continue in full at the current level.
- Where firms use any other method to take account of future product and ongoing adviser charges, e.g. for non-percentage-based charges, they should satisfy themselves that the result achieves the same intent.
For actual loss cases, the personal pension value used for the redress calculation should take account of any adviser charges that were incurred when the pension moved into decumulation at retirement.
Firms should allow for ongoing adviser charges in redress calculations. In line with Principle 6 and the requirement to handle complaints fairly under DISP, firms should not withdraw or change the cost of ongoing advice services without good reason. For example, if a consumer is paying for ongoing advice services prior to a complaint or past business review, it may not be appropriate for the firm to withdraw services or change their cost unless requested by the consumer, and with a clear disclosure of the effect that would have on the consumer’s redress calculation.
Where another firm is giving ongoing advice, firms should allow for ongoing adviser charges. This is to compensate the consumer for charges that they would not have incurred if they had not been advised to leave their DB scheme.
Where redress is paid in the form of a lump sum, it should be adjusted to take account of the consumer’s individual tax position and wider circumstances.
How can we help you?
If you’d like to know more about how we can help you with your DB transfer or pension transfers redress calculation arrangements, or with any other regulatory compliance issues, our expert team is here to help.