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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.

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.

Cashflow planning software firm CashCalc has revealed it is to withdraw its Transfer Value Comparator (TVC) tool from its available suite of tools.

DB transfer values rose to record highs in August 2019, while the number of members requesting a transfer value continues to increase, according to XPS Transfer Watch.


XPS Pensions Group’s ‘Transfer Value Index’ jumped sharply to an all-time high of £258,200 on 21 August 2019; up from £247,400 at the end of July 2019.

The increase was said to have been “largely driven by a significant fall in gilt yields during August, partially offset by a small fall in inflation expectations”. 

XPS Pensions Group reported an increase in the number of transfer quotes being requested across some of its schemes, with some members choosing to pay for an updated calculation with transfer values at their peak. 

 

Mark Barlow, partner, XPS Pensions Group, said: “The impacts of recent volatile markets have seen transfer values increase steadily over the last two months, with an all time high in August.

“The continuing fall in gilt yields has pushed transfer values to new record highs, around 10% higher than they were this time last year.

“Although there is a lot of uncertainty around the future of the financial markets, an increase in transfer values will mean we are likely to see a lot of members investigating their options.
 
“Trustees and sponsors should ensure that members considering long term irreversible decisions are being provided with sufficient education and support to enable them to make the right decision for their circumstances and financial futures.

“We would also recommend schemes consider how the substantial changes in market conditions have affected the funding strategy and whether, in light of this, the transfer value basis remains appropriate.”

Flexible pensions cash may be a major contributor to the rise in savings deposits – rather than a rise in consumers saving more, new research has suggested.


Retirees withdrawing cash appeared to be acting with caution due to market volatility and were found to be using savings accounts as a “haven”, according to the latest statistics. 



HMRC revealed that both the volume and value of flexible payments from pensions has hit a new high.

Between April and June this year, £2.75bn was withdrawn from pensions flexibly, with 760,000 payments made.

Over the same quarter, statistics from the Bank of England noted £7.5bn was deposited into accounts that are accessible without penalty, which includes easy access accounts.

According to the latest research by Moneyfacts.co.uk, savers who have waited until now to open an account may have missed the boat on the most lucrative easy access rates, as they are now on the decline. 



 

Moneyfacts says retirees who want frequent access to use their savings pot as a source of income will “need to be mindful that the best easy access deals can apply withdrawal restrictions or require savers to open the account online”.

Savers will also find that the market average rate of 0.64% is less than the Bank of England base rate, so there are still many accounts to avoid due to poor returns.

Rachel Springall, finance expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk, said: “Retirees may be withdrawing cash from their pensions for various reasons, either to plug a debt gap, boost disposable income or even to reinvest.

“There are signs that the cash could be going into easy access accounts, away from stock market volatility and within easy reach. In recent months, several providers have cut their easy access rates, plus some of the top deals include withdrawal restrictions.

“The downside to choosing an easy access account is the return, which is variable and may well drop should we see a base rate cut before the year is out.

“As the average easy access rate stands at just 0.64%, it’s clear to see that there are much worse rates out there for savers than can be found in the top rate tables.

“Indeed, the Flexible Saver from HSBC pays a disappointing 0.15% – 10 times less than the top rate in the market today on offer from Virgin Money, which pays a rate of 1.50% on its Double Take E-Saver.

“It is slightly worrying to find such a large rise to both the volume and value of pension cash withdrawals, hitting a new record since pension freedoms were introduced. If retirees take too much cash out of their pensions from the age of 55, they may end up with little provision for the future, which they are unlikely to be able to recoup. 

“Seeking independent financial advice, both when withdrawing cash and choosing a product in which to invest, is essential during a period of economic uncertainty.

“Taking out an easy access account may be an easy choice, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the right one.” 

The Pensions Regulator has fined a firm £350,000 for failing to fully comply with its pension duties.
Scottish Widows has been ordered to compensate a client after a rule change around overseas pension transfers led to him being hit by an unnecessary 25% per cent tax charge.
On 1 November we will see the first big changes come into force as a direct result of the Retirement Outcomes Review (ROR) – the FCA’s big piece of work on the post-pension freedoms world. Although the ROR focuses primarily on non-advised clients there are knock-on effects that will be felt by all clients, and their advisers too.

The retirement outcomes review continues to cause fun and games in the world of pensions. Particularly for those with more complex pension products.

Transfer values rose during July 2019, while the number of DB transfers also increased, according to XPS Transfer Watch, which monitors how market developments have affected transfer values for an example member, as well as how many members are choosing to take a transfer value.
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