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Exposing the truth about pensions transfers

1 November, 2023

Anthony Rafferty, CEO, Origo, exposes the truth about pensions transfers

Since inception in April 2019, the Origo Transfer Index has become an increasingly definitive measure of pension transfer times in the industry, providing a guide for advisers and consumers on what they might expect when switching money to a new provider, while also acting as a means to drive up improvements in transfer performance.

The Index publishes on a quarterly basis and covers the transfer data for a group of now 30 leading providers who use the Origo Transfer Service.

Origo now has over 150 brands using the Transfer Service and we believe close to 95% of defined contribution (DC) pensions transfers, are processed by the Service*. With the 30 participants of the Origo Transfer Index accounting for 92% of all movement through the Transfer Service over the past twelve months, the Index now provides a solid performance benchmark for pensions transfers within the industry. As an industry measurement, it is clear and simple for consumers and providers alike.

Origo established the Origo Transfer Index with two ideas in mind. Firstly, to help combat overtly negative news stories around pensions transfers. We wanted to show what we knew to be true, that the majority of pension providers are ceding consumer’s’ money quickly and efficiently.

Secondly, to create ongoing transparency in respect of pension transfer times and so help drive up performance across the industry overall.

We recently welcomed Scottish Widows and Clerical Medical to the Index, increasing the participants to 30.

Looking at transfers completed through the Origo Transfer Service in the 12-month period to the end of September 2023, the average time for overall transfers across the group was 12.9 calendar days. Simpler transfers have consistently completed in around 10 calendar days i.e., just over a working week.

This is far from the horror stories we hear of consumer’s spending months waiting for their money to transfer. There will always be outliers, but the mean performance used in the OTI shows that they are exactly that. In fact, the median performance on simpler transfers, which make up 90% of the total, is just 6.1 calendar days, meaning that 45% of all transfers are completed in 6.1 days or less. Even taking the remaining 10% of transfers which were more complex into account, half of all transfers i.e., some 530,000 of them, were completed in just 6.8 days or less.

It is important for consumers that as an industry we use whatever means we can to effect transfers as quickly and efficiently as possible, whilst keeping security front of mind. The Origo Transfer Index is one tool to help do so.

All transfer times are under the Regulator’s scrutiny and the pensions industry must now look to its outliers, who typically use slow, paper-based processes, with a view to bringing down pensions transfers times across the board.

Meanwhile, the pensions industry at large are 'the good guys' as evidenced by the transparency and openness behind all those who participate in the Origo Transfer Index and more widely in the Origo Transfer Service. These providers have invested in efficiency and digitising processes and it shows in the results. It may not be the stuff of headlines, but the majority of the pensions industry are already working hard to deliver the right transfer results for consumers.

The industry has an open secret – there are certain providers who are slow to transfer money out. PensionBee, in particular, have called this out regularly. It is on these problem providers that the spotlight should now be shone.

In closing, I would like to point out that the Index’s participating providers voluntarily publish their pensions transfer data on the quarterly basis, no matter what their performance. Our thanks to them, they should be commended for their involvement.

* Full industry data is not publicly available.