STAR, the industry award scheme designed to combat delays in electronic transfer times, is now in its second year of awarding accreditations. The initiative addresses the industry's inability to complete transfers in a timely manner, which can be a major source of frustration for people trying to access their savings, investments, and pensions.

The industry has fallen behind the rest of the financial services sector, with transfers often taking several weeks, sometimes even months, to finalise. The STAR initiative was launched to combat this and now has 27 brands being accredited – an increase of 50% from the last year.

Due to the complexity of the transfer process involving multiple entities and regulatory jurisdictions, the industry recognised the need for a collaborative effort to address the issue. Accordingly, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) called on the industry to address the problem and voluntarily get its house in order.

Two independent and not-for-profit organisations, Criterion and TeX, took on this challenge and now manage one of the most extensive cross-industry collaborations in the financial services industry. The STAR initiative rewards good transfer performance with bronze, silver and gold accreditations. STAR accreditation is designed to measure and accredit transfer performance across the sector and encourage improved performance.

The FCA has thrown its support behind STAR, which was introduced as an alternative to regulation or legislation. In their Dear CEO letters (Feb 2023) on Consumer Duty, they outlined the need for organisations to improve transfer times to fulfil the new rules. The FCA commenting said:

Improving transfer times is critical in improving consumers' ability to shop around and switch to a platform that better meets their needs. The FCA is supportive of the progress STAR has made to date, which aims to bring down transfer times. Reducing transfer times remains a priority for the FCA.

Andrew Marker, STAR Chair commenting, said: 

As Chair of STAR, I’m delighted to see participation grow in the vital piece of industry collaboration. I am proud of the efforts made by everyone involved in the initiative. The organisations participating in STAR are the ones who recognise the urgency and importance of improving the transfer processes for the benefit of their customers. With the introduction of the new Consumer Duty rules by the FCA, organisations must step up and take action to meet these requirements. Through STAR, we are driving positive change and creating a better experience for consumers. Joining STAR demonstrates a firm's commitment towards achieving favourable customer outcomes, ensuring prompt investment transfers, and being able to substantiate it with an accreditation. Therefore, we urge all companies who are not currently involved with STAR to become a part of it.

There are 77 organisations participating in STAR in various states of readiness and 27 brands have been accredited. The categories of accreditation are:

  • ISA and GIA
  • Personal Pensions, SIPP and SSAS
  • Occupational Pensions
  • Asset Managers

STAR accreditations are based on several factors. One area of good performance can’t outweigh the poor performance in another. It is a balanced approach and awards are thoroughly checked before they are given to an organisation. STAR accreditations are measured on a range of Key Performance Indicators not only on the overall transfer time, as there are also a lot of mitigating factors to consider when reviewing the overall performance of an organisation.

STAR concluded that the best way to fairly judge an organisation was to set up a point based metric system with an organisation being scored on several key areas such as :

  • The average number of days to transfer a customer’s assets 
  • How they communicate with their customers on that journey 

Details of the accreditations are available on STAR’s website. 2022 accreditations can be viewed here.