“The benefit to consumers from firms dedicating resources to dealing with critical functions in the short term may outweigh the harm from delaying the implementation of certain polices.”
The FCA has delayed a number of pension policy changes until 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
The FCA was due to introduce new rules and guidance on defined benefit (DB) transfer advice, which included raising qualification levels for pension transfer specialists (PTS) to require them to obtain the same qualification as an investment adviser alongside the existing PTS qualification.
The FCA today confirmed that the PTS qualification rules will be delayed until October 2021.
In a statement, the FCA said: “We believe that the benefit to consumers from firms dedicating resources to dealing with critical functions in the short term may outweigh the harm from delaying the implementation of certain polices.
“We are also aware that most accredited bodies and other professional qualification providers are postponing their exams due to the coronavirus crisis.”
Other delays are to the implementation of drawdown investment pathways and to investment transfer rule changes surrounding making pension transfers simpler. Both sets of rule changes are delayed until February 2021.
Investment pathways aim to help retiring investors who aren’t taking financial advice to find a pre-selected investment strategy suited to their needs.
Making transfers simpler will lead to investors’ transfers being executed faster and more efficiently, keeping their funds invested in the market wherever possible. As part of this initiative, the industry has been developing a common set of standards and performance monitoring to ensure firms are accountable for their performance.
Tom McPhail, head of policy at Hargreaves Lansdown, commented: “These are important initiatives, designed to protect consumers, promote competition and to ensure firms are looking after customers’ best interests. Given the unique circumstances we all find ourselves in now, and the importance of maintaining good customer services, we are sympathetic to the FCA’s decision to press pause until the present Covid-19 related crisis has passed.”
Last month, the regulator postponed its decision on whether to ban contingent charging on DB transfers.
The FCA commented: “As this is a complex area, with a number of interlinked issues and because of the significance of this issue to all stakeholders in the market, we need to carry out further analysis of the issues drawing on our supervision work. We also need to consider how interventions fit with related current and forthcoming workstreams such as the RDR/FAMR review.”