FCA confirm periodic review of pension transfers redress guidance

Sep 1st '21

Finalised Guidance 17/9 (FG17/9) sets out how firms should calculate redress for unsuitable defined benefit (DB) pension transfers. When the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) published FG17/9 in 2017, they committed in the accompanying Feedback Statement to review the guidance at least every 4 years.


The purpose of this statement is to:


  • Confirm that the FCA intend to start a periodic review of the redress guidance by the end of 2021.
  • Set out expectations of firms while the review is ongoing, including clarifying how firms should be applying or interpreting the guidance in certain areas.


The guidance is used by firms to put consumers back in the position they would have been 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.
  • 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 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.


If they decide to make further changes to the guidance following this review the FCA will consult on these.


Expectations of firms

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
  • 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 where firms may also benefit from clarification on how they currently expect redress to 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 FCA guidance, it may be appropriate to review those calculations and contact consumers where they determine that additional redress may be due.


Allowing for adviser and product charges

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, eg 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.


See FG17/9 paragraph 25 and FG17/9 Feedback Statement page 5.


Impact on consumer’s tax position and/or benefits entitlement

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.


For tax, firms should:


  • check if the consumer is a non-taxpayer
  • check if any payment would change the consumer’s marginal tax rate
  • adjust the redress payment accordingly so that the consumer is not disadvantaged by the payment


For wider circumstances, firms should:


  • check if the consumer receives means tested benefits
  • check if any payment would change the consumer’s eligibility for means tested benefits
  • adjust the redress payment accordingly so that the consumer is not disadvantaged by the payment


See FG17/9 paragraph 5.


Source: FCA