Regarding your Q&A last month on the different factors that can affect service standards within the pensions industry, it is important to stress the impact on regulatory change. In recent years we have seen a number of significant changes to legislation that directly affect the administration of pension schemes. At a point where the dust is just starting to settle on the new simplified regime, the Pensions Advisory Service reported a 12% reduction in complaints relating to occupational based pension schemes in 2007. Whether this was a result of the impact of the changes is too early to assess but following on we now have a Pensions Bill that is set to change the face of UK based pension provision and will again possibly impact on the service provided at least in the short term.
Another key factor is the amount of resource that companies put into their administration services. Historically it could be argued that more focus would be given to actuarial, investment and more recently the trustee services for a scheme. Companies and trustees need to put greater emphasis on the delivery of administration as a key factor in the provision of good scheme standards. Raising Standards In Pensions Administration has been active since 2002 and has published a General Statement of Administration Standards. This statement includes a number of principles that all good schemes should at least attempt to adhere to. For example, consider the views of the members as to the quality of the service offered and the service they require. On the face of it many of the principles are common sense and more administrators should be aspiring to achieve those principles.
Regulation will continue to be relevant but it is not the primary driving factor. Companies and trustees need to be given breathing space to re-focus on the services that they offer but similarly they need to take this time to ensure that facilities are in place to deliver effective administration and that the service they provide meets the demands of the scheme membership.
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Joined as head of strategy, multi asset, in June
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