The Pensions Administration Standards Association (PASA) has launched a consultation seeking views on its combined code for defined benefit (DB) transfers.
PASA is consulting on its code titled DB Transfers: The Code of Good Practice - unveiled today (11 February) - and is asking the industry to commit to delivering faster, safer DB to defined contribution (DC) transfers.
The industry is also being asked for its views on the faster, well-communicated, efficient and cost-effective strategies that the code sets out for scheme administrators and wider stakeholders to execute.
The code reveals the maximum expected time of a DB to DC transfer should be seven to ten working days (or 12 to 15 working days where referral to the actuary for review or sign-off is required).
PASA president Margaret Snowdon explained: "Members have to make serious choices [when considering a DB to DC transfer] and it is a once in a lifetime option. They need to be informed about the options and that is where the code comes in."
Objectives of the transfer code include improving overall member experience, improving communications and transparency, and improving efficiency for administrators.
While adoption of the code is voluntary, and Snowdon explained the "code doesn't need to be followed slavishly", it has a proposed adoption period of 12 months.
She noted that a balance is needed between safety and speed and the aim is to "speed up transfers where we can and be clear when we can't".
"Delay to transfers can often turn into a blame game," she added.
This follows part one of PASA's Guide to Good Practice last year which included guidance on DB transfers to help give members better flexibility while retaining pension benefits. Rather than create part two of the guidance, PASA chose to publish a code agreeing "guidance isn't strong enough".
PASA DB Transfers Working Group chairman James Ellison said: "Delays damage relationships with scheme members and lead to a breakdown of trust. This can result in members making decisions which are not in their best interest, or worse still, increase the risk of becoming victims of pension scams.
"We are extremely mindful of needing to find the balance between member protection and their statutory right to take their pension in a different shape or form, via a flexible arrangement. As a group, our key objective is to create a framework to help deliver this balance."
The consultation will close to responses on 30 April and the code is expected to be released on 1 September.
This comes after The Pensions Regulator revealed in its updated DB to DC transfers and conversions guidance document in November that DB trustees are now required to contact financial advice firms to ensure staff providing advice to a members are compliant under new adviser rules before carrying out a transfer exercise.
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