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Friday, 13 September 2019 10:41
XPS Administration, part of XPS Pensions Group, has been awarded silver level accreditation by Investors in People the international standard for people management.
Thursday, 12 September 2019 09:00
As everyone makes their way back to work following a glorious, if politically fuelled summer, it feels that the push has started towards the end of the year.
Wednesday, 11 September 2019 12:07
The Aegon Master Trust has received authorisation from the Pensions Regulator (TPR).
Tuesday, 10 September 2019 14:51
The responses from readers taking part in the latest Financial Planning Today survey demonstrated the wide variety of business areas that Financial Planners advise on and transact.
Monday, 09 September 2019 11:27
A company director is to be prosecuted by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) for failing to provide information and documents requested as part of an ongoing investigation.
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XPS Administration, part of XPS Pensions Group, has been awarded silver level accreditation by Investors in People the international standard for people management.

As everyone makes their way back to work following a glorious, if politically fuelled summer, it feels that the push has started towards the end of the year.

The Aegon Master Trust has received authorisation from the Pensions Regulator (TPR).


The authorisation process is aimed at raising master trust standards in a fast growing area of the workplace pension market by “a thorough examination of scheme’s capabilities in areas such as their systems and processes, financial sustainability and fit and proper requirements for those exerting control over master trusts”.
 
Following authorisation, master trusts will need to have business plans, continuity strategies and access to ring-fenced assets to protect members’ benefits should a trust be wound up.
 
Aegon’s master trust was acquired as part of the acquisition of BlackRock’s Defined Contribution and administration business.

The master trust formally became Aegon Master Trust (AMT) in July 2018 and is a growing part of Aegon’s workplace business.

 

The Aegon Master Trust has £1.5bn total assets under management (AUM), more than 100,000 members and over 85 participating employers. 
 
Ian Pittaway, chair of Aegon Master Trust said: “The Trustees of the Aegon Master Trust are absolutely delighted that Aegon’s commitment to the master trust has been recognised through gaining authorisation.

“I look forward to the continued progress in this market, and the Aegon Master Trust playing its part.

“I am sure there are lots of exciting developments ahead which will improve the financial outcomes for members.” 
 
Kate Smith, head of Master Trust at Aegon UK, is responsible for leading the development of Aegon’s master trust proposition including the authorisation process.

She said: “It’s been exciting to see how the new and improved master trusts market has been shaping up over the last few months and we are delighted that the Aegon Master Trust has joined the line-up of those authorised. 
 
“Raised standards among master trusts means greater protection for members of all master trusts, something I have been calling for over many years.

“As supervision starts to kick in master trust standards will have to continue to be maintained to retain authorisation.” 
 
She added: “As confidence in the master trusts market continues to grow, we look forward to working with more employers in the future and supporting members on their journey to retirement and beyond.”

The responses from readers taking part in the latest Financial Planning Today survey demonstrated the wide variety of business areas that Financial Planners advise on and transact.


This is an edited section of the feature which can be read in full and for free here.

Predictably, the vast majority both advised and transacted Financial Planning services, close to 95%, but a number of other areas were handled by planning firms. Some 40% advised on or transacted auto-enrolment, equity release or corporate Financial Planning. Close to 95% said they transacted and advised on wraps/platforms and over nearly 95% did tax planning.

Some 91% transacted and advised on SIPPs and SSAS. Investment/portfolio management (91%) and pension transfers (88%) were also strongly represented.

However, some planners were unhappy with provider service in some areas.

One area of unrest appears to be in the service from platforms with more than one in five planners looking to change provider.

Some 6.7% of planners considered service levels to be “very poor” and said they were “actively seeking a new platform.”

The vast majority (65%) said platforms could do better.

Just 13% said the service they received was “excellent.”

Surprisingly, one area where planners appear to be taking a potential hurdle in their stride was regulation.

Despite the FCA’s recently announced major review of financial advice many viewed the review as positive.

Close to 70% said it was the right thing to do with 30% harbouring reservations.

This was despite more than 54% of respondents stating that financial regulation costs, including the FSCS and Financial Ombudsman, were a key challenge.

The main issue for many was the rising cost of professional indemnity insurance (58%).

This was followed by the FCA’s review of financial advice, competition from new and existing competitors (17.7%), competition from robo-advisers (10.8%) and sale or exit from business (9.5%).

Other answers included Brexit, MiFID II, increased market volatility and competing with unethical rivals.

The survey also showed the wide variation in the size of firms.

Many are still small with just one or two staff but there is growth among bigger firms, likely driven by a recent wave of mergers and acquisitions.

Marginally the second most popular answer (after one or two employees on 18%) was six to 10 employees at 17% of respondents, but this was closely followed by larger firms of more than 100 employees on 14.5%, tied with firms employing 11 to 25 staff.

The typical size of client portfolios varied greatly, with a range of less than £100,000 (9.5%) to £10m+ (1.3%).

The most popular answers were £350,001 to £500,000 and £500,001 to £1m (both 26%).

The next most popular answer was £250,001 to £350,000 (17.6%)

The vast majority expressed satisfaction with professional bodies like the PFS and CISI.

The full feature and survey results can be read for free here.

A company director is to be prosecuted by The Pensions Regulator (TPR) for failing to provide information and documents requested as part of an ongoing investigation.


Michael Woolley was asked to provide information about investments made by company Southbank Capital Limited, of which he is both a director and a shareholder.

The investments related to money and/or assets originating from 16 pension schemes for which PIM Trustees Limited is the trustee.

 

Mr Woolley is the sole director and a shareholder of the professional trustee firm.
 
He was accused of failing to comply with a notice issued under section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004 that required the information and documents to be provided by 12 February 2019.
 
Mr Woolley has been summonsed to appear at Brighton Magistrates’ Court on 13 November to face a charge of neglecting or refusing to provide information and documents, without a reasonable excuse, when required to do so under section 72 of the Pensions Act 2004, contrary to section 77(1) of that Act.
 
The case continues.

XPS Pensions Group (XPS) has appointed Harry Harper as head of risk transfer, the firm has revealed.


The firm says the new hire will “further build upon XPS’s capabilities to engage and assist clients in reaching their end-goal of buyout”.
 
Prior to joining XPS, Mr Harper led JLT’s buyout and buy-in team for two years and prior to that was a member of Mercer’s buyout team.

 

He was responsible for the UK’s first “all risks” insurance transaction, the first buyout from Pension Protection Fund assessment and the first online bulk annuity e-auction.
 
Patrick McCoy, head of advisory at XPS Pensions Group, said: “Harry is a perfect fit for XPS, with his experience of innovative bulk annuity transactions, covering multi billion pound pension schemes down to the more modest regional schemes.

“This will strengthen our offering and ability to serve the full range of pension schemes, to the very highest standard.”
 
Mr Harper said: “I am excited to join XPS, a fast growing and ambitious organisation with a clear aim of putting scheme’s interests at the very front of everything we do.

“I look forward to the opportunity to rapidly drive the pensions risk transfer industry forward.”

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