Comment on FCA's Final Guidance on DB Transfers
30 Mar 2021
Commenting on FCA’s finalised guidance on what information and support trustees and employers can provide to members without potentially falling into regulated advice, Ryan Markham, Partner and Head of Member Options, Hymans Robertson, says:
“We are pleased to see that the FCA has listened to the industry and softened its stance on what would be viewed as ‘advice’. This is a big relief given the wording in the consultation was detrimental to member education and informed decision making. While the consultation published previously by the FCA looked generally helpful in its aim to help drive up advice standards across the board, it contained highly contentious wording which was of concern to trustees and sponsors of DB schemes. In particular it suggested that trustees providing personalised illustrations showing conversion of DB pension through a transfer value (into annuity or drawdown) could be viewed as giving members regulated advice. More worryingly it wasn’t clear whether providing members with indicative transfer values could be deemed as an ‘inducement’. As drafted this could have resulted in significant numbers of schemes having to change their retirement processes or risk providing advice and members just sleepwalking into retirement in the scheme.
“The FCA has, it is good to see, acknowledged that locking all information on transfer values away from members it’s helpful. It’s good to see acknowledgement that information on transfer values with the right context is important for members to understand the choices they have and certain comparisons could be helpful in helping members make one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives. Despite this there will still be some caution around what trustees can provide, especially around illustrative drawdown figures which are still likely to be viewed as advice. Sensible judgement will be needed and sponsors and trustees may still need to ensure any technology solutions members have access to remain on the right side of the boundary.
“We have seen some caution in the industry whilst this consultation was in play which hasn’t been helpful for members. While not necessarily providing all the answers, this guidance does give some helpful examples and pointers on how trustees and sponsors can better support members whilst not straying into advice. This should allow trustees and sponsors to review and develop their member engagement and options strategy at a time when members have never needed this valuable support more. This can only be helpful in members engaging fully in their choices and reducing the risk of poor decisions or even worse falling victim to scammers.”