Leading platforms have contacted their fund groups requesting they support the STAR Transfers & Re-Registration initiative. STAR is set to improve the outcomes for individuals wanting to transfer their assets, such as pensions and investments.
A growing community of 67 firms ave signed up to the STAR initiative, which officially launched in January 2019 and has companies and organisations committed to shaping recognised, industry-wide standards to promote good practice in transfers. The STAR initiative is the only cross industry solution bringing together platforms, ISA managers, pension companies, asset managers and transfer agents, galvanising the industry, to put in place service level agreements to ensure quick, efficient and predictable transfers and re-registration. STAR was created as a collaboration between Criterion and TeX.
The platform businesses of Aegon, Fidelity, Hargreaves Lansdown and Standard Life, have all written to the Fund Groups on their platforms requesting they support STAR. They have sent a very clear message to asset managers that they need them to support STAR, to the meet the needs of their platform distributors, helping them improve outcomes for the end customer and to meet FCA Platform Market Study requirements.
The leading platforms are committed to embracing initiatives that are designed to enhance customer journeys and outcomes. As part of their focus on this, they have joined the STAR initiative and been integral to galvanising the industry in conjunction with a significant number of organisations.
Andrew Marker, Chair of the STAR Steering Group and Head of Retail Pension, Vanguard Asset Management Limited said:
“We are absolutely delighted that the leading platforms have shown their support for the STAR initiative. It is too early to build STAR membership into fund due diligence processes, but the weight that platforms are putting behind this initiative signposts that they expect support for STAR to become a future due diligence / Fund Manager Agreement requirement. STAR is a voluntary framework and has achieved rapid legitimacy and momentum, due to the significant organisations participating, representing a cross section of the financial services industry. Not only will this initiative improve things for customers, but for participating organisations it will make them more efficient and save money in the process for the benefit of customers.”
Tim Orton, Managing Director of Investment Solutions at Aegon comments:
“We welcome the FCA allowing the industry to lead on developing solutions to improve the efficiency of transfers and re-registrations and the STAR initiative has helped to shape and define good practice in this area. Aegon is pleased to support STAR to demonstrate our commitment to customers and is calling on fund managers to sign-up to the initiative and support its industry-wide standards. Support from across the industry will help improve the quality of service and process efficiency for individuals who transfer assets across financial institutions.”
Anne-Marie Brennan, Head of Platform Products, Fidelity International comments:
“As a platform, we believe it’s vital that customers are empowered to make decisions about their investments, including how and where they hold them. STAR will help to improve their experience of transferring assets between platforms, and we are fully committed to supporting the initiative.”
Nathan Long, interim head of policy at Hargreaves Lansdown:
"People are increasingly required to take greater control of their finances, but kinks in the plumbing behind the scenes mean transfers of their investments and pensions take far too long. HL are by no means perfect but are committed to working with the industry to speed up transfer times, re-designing our approach to meet the high standards of practice identified by STAR. Helping people’s money move smoothly between providers works if all of the industry pull together, which is why we’ve written to a group of asset managers encouraging them to sign up too."
Jenny Davidson, Head of Investment Technology Solutions at Standard Life said
“As a key enabler to supporting the FCA’s Policy Statement PS19-29 on Making Transfers Simpler, the STAR initiative has Standard Life’s full support and we are actively encouraging fund providers distributing via Standard Life platforms to sign-up to deliver a cross-industry framework of good practice for improving customer experience when moving money from one financial institution to another.”
The Steering Group is part of the effective governance of STAR, and meets monthly. The Implementation Phase of the Initiative started in March 2020, to allow the members to agree an approach to deliver STAR Reporting and an opportunity to discuss change requests and common challenges they may face.
Endorsed by The Transfers and Re-registration Industry Group (TRIG), STAR will deliver a cross-industry framework of good practice for improving customer experience in moving their investments from one financial institution to another. In December 2019, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) confirmed it was happy with progress made by the industry through the STAR initiative. The FCA will continue to monitor the initiative in 2020 and consider further action if necessary. The FCA has encouraged firms not already involved in this initiative to consider taking part as a way of improving the switching process and achieving better outcomes for consumers.
The output of the STAR initiative will be a quarterly industry index and an annual accreditation scheme of bronze, silver and gold for performance against Transfer and Re-Registration service level agreements to ensure transparency; so that customers and financial advisers can compare the performance of platforms and investment managers ensuring performance can be evidenced and rewarded.
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