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More than 32,000 pension savers have received £135m in compensation from providers who failed to inform them about enhanced annuity options, the FCA has revealed in its Annual Report and Accounts.

The Financial Conduct Authority is consulting on a rule change which may mean open ended property fund investors being required to give 180 days notice for a withdrawal of funds.

The FCA is to consult on tougher rules to protect millions of vulnerable consumers.

The FCA, PRA and Bank of England are consulting on an updated Complaints Scheme to make it simpler and more "user friendly."

The FCA plans to launch an enhanced Financial Services Register later this month to replace the existing register.

The changeover will happen on Monday 27 July with the previous register withdrawn on Friday 24 July.

Later in the year the regulator will add a directory of certified and assessed persons to reflect the introduction of the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SM&CR)

The revamped Register will have a new look and include improvements in response to user feedback.

According to the FCA, the changes will make it easier to find and understand information on the Register.

Firms will be expected to update any links they have to pages on the current Financial Services Register, other than those to the homepage, once the enhanced Register launches.

All current links will be redirected to the enhanced Register’s homepage. The existing Financial Services Register will cease to be available from 6pm on Friday 24 July so that work can take place over the weekend to make the enhanced Register ready for the start of business on Monday 27 July, says the FCA.

The SM&CR regime involves the FCA publishing and maintaining a directory of “certified and assessed” persons on the Financial Services Register. This is to help consumers and professionals check details of key individuals working in financial services.

The directory persons information was planned for March this year but put back partly due to the Coronavirus outbreak and also because the FCA also experienced “operational challenges” when processing some bulk data file submissions from dual-regulated firms at peak periods.

Banks, building societies, credit unions and insurance companies can continue to update the information on their past and present certified employees for inclusion in the directory when it launches later this year.

The FCA recently announced it had proposed extending the previous deadline of 9 December 2020 for solo-regulated firms to submit information about Directory Persons to the Register to 31 March 2021.

The FCA will however allow still publish details of certified employees of solo firms starting from 9 December 2020 on the Register where firms can supply this information before March.

The FCA has pushed back publication of its Annual Report and Accounts - due this month - for at least two months due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

The FCA has extended the deadline for firms to complete the first assessment of the “fitness and propriety” of their Certified Persons under the new Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR) from 9 December until 31 March.

The High Court ruled in favour of the FCA in a civil action against two firms and their directors who induced clients to transfer their pensions in SIPPs and alternative investments without FCA authorisation.

The FCA wants improvements in the ‘value for money’ members of workplace pensions and some SIPPs receive.

The regulator has today launched a Consultation Paper on changes that may be needed to ensure workplace pensions scheme members get a better deal.

The launch follows a review which suggested some governance committees were “ineffective” in challenging firms to ensure value for money in workplace schemes.

Following the review the Consultation Paper has been brought forward.

The  Consultation Paper CP20/9 looks at ways to make workplace pensions better value for money.

The watchdog says its proposals aim to make it easier for Independent Governance Committees (IGCs) and Governance Advisory Arrangements (GAAs) to compare the value for money of pension products and services.

This should enable them to be “more effective” in assessing value for pension scheme members.

IGCs oversee the value for money of workplace personal pensions provided by firms like life insurers and some SIPP operators.

They provide independent oversight of workplace personal pensions in accumulation  and will oversee the investment pathway solutions that will have to be offered from 1 February 2021. IGCs act on behalf of consumers who are likely to be “uninvolved or less engaged” with their pension savings, says the FCA.

The FCA review found that:

  • Some IGCs lack the necessary independence and were ineffective at challenging firms to ensure value for money for workplace pension scheme members
  • Those IGCs which maintained independence from the firms whose pension schemes they had responsibility for delivered better outcomes for pension scheme members
  • GAAs operated by third-party firms on behalf of pension providers were less effective at delivering meaningful improvements in value for money
  • Over the period of the review (2017-2019) the FCA found there had been a “small reduction” in charges across all pension savings, although this has not been directly linked to IGCs and GAAs.

Megan Butler, FCA executive director of supervision - Investment, Wholesale and Specialists, said: “This Consultation Paper will help to ensure that pension scheme members are getting value for money.

“Our separate review into IGCs and GAAs lays out the key lessons that need to be learned to ensure that workplace pension holders get a fair deal.

“The FCA has carefully considered these findings and is asking firms that do not meet our requirements to make improvements.”

Overall, the FCA found that a number of IGCs were working well to provide value for money for their members however, a lack of consistency in the way they operate meant that members of some workplace pension schemes may not be receiving value for money.

The FCA has sent feedback letters to firms to ensure they make improvements to the way they work with their IGC or GAA.

The Consultation Paper has a deadline of 24 September and includes proposals for a framework for the annual IGC and GAA value for money assessment process, including a definition of value for money and three key elements of value for IGCs to use when conducting their assessments.

 • The Consultation Paper and the Thematic Review.

The Financial Conduct Authority says it will ban most contingent charging on DB pension transfers as part of a raft of measures designed to tackle ‘weaknesses’ in the DB transfer market.

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