More needs to be done to speed up DB to DC transfers but, as Jonathan Stapleton says, more also needs to be done to protect members.
The introduction of Freedom and Choice in 2015 led to a surge in the number of defined benefit (DB) to defined contribution transfers with, according to the Office for National Statistics, around £100bn of retirement pots having transferred since the policy came into place.
The surge has led to schemes struggling to keep up with demand - with long transfer times common across the industry - and has also raised concerns about how best to ensure members aren't falling victim to scams.
There is, however, a delicate balance to strike between member protection and an individual's statutory right to transfer and the fact they shouldn't be hindered when making legitimate transfers.
The Pensions Administration Standards Association's (PASA) launch of DB transfer guidance should do much to help improve the situation.
It aims to improve the overall member experience through faster, safer transfers; improve efficiency for administrators; and improve communications and transparency in the processing of transfers.
Pensions and financial inclusion minister Guy Opperman believes such transfers should take no longer than 10 weeks - noting that the idea that transfers are too complicated to do in such a timescale is "not acceptable on a long-term basis".
Opperman said the government did not want to legislate for this and urged the industry to work together to avoid such an outcome.
Yet, despite this, PASA president Margaret Snowdon does believe there should be legislation in order to give members added protection from scams - allowing schemes to refuse to make transfers should certain conditions apply.
She says by "giving trustees and providers the power to refuse a transfer on the grounds of suspicions raised by due diligence, we could save years of anguish for members".
The combination of such legislation alongside the DB transfer guidance would really help schemes balance the speed of a transfer with ensuring it is a legitimate one. This must surely be a huge positive for members.
Jonathan Stapleton is editor of Professional Pensions
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