The new STAR steering group – set up to effect improve the transfers of pensions and investments – has appointed Tom McPhail, the head of policy at Hargreaves Lansdown as its founding chairman.
This new steering group is a joint venture between Criterion and TeX, and has been set up to address the issues of inconsistencies in transfer times.
The group will now set out its priorities and oversee the operational delivery of the underlying working groups. These will be tasked with creating and maintaining service level agreements to be adopted across the pensions and investment industry.
TeX director, Carol Knight says STAR’s remit was to define industry-wide service level agreements, and promote best practice transfers, thereby improving processes and speed of transfers across the industry.
Criterion managing director Caroline Mansley adds that STAR was delighted that Tom McPhail had agreed to chair this new group.
Mansley adds senior members of the STAR team would attend the independent steering group and the FCA, IPR and DWP, as well as consumer groups, would be invited to observe its work.
McPhail says: “Government and regulators have set a clear challenge to the industry: fix this for the benefit of your customers or we’ll impose regulations on you.”
He pointed out that while companies like Hargreaves Lansdown are working hard to improve its processes, the problem only really gets fixed if everyone works together to a set of common standards.
He adds: “Hargreaves Lansdown has signed up to this initiative because we know that in end, the cost of doing this will be more than off-set by the savings we’ll make from faster, simpler administration and because we can’t expect others to sign up if we’re not prepared to put our money where our mouth is.”
Mansley said that 14 organisations had committed in principle to supporting STAR prior to its its inaugural meeting, where this appointment was announced.
She adds that she expects membership to now grow significantly, with the organisation hoping to have 30 founding members signed up by the end of March.
Mansley added STAR had estimated there are over 400 processes that would require defining in respect of service level agreements, a first task would be to identify where there were overlaps.
“We will be identifying the processes that are different and leveraging what is common,” she says. “This is not an issue that is going away. It is one firmly within the immediate focus of government and the regulator.”