Above: Tom McPhail, Hargreaves Lansdown and Ravi Grewal, Interactive Investor
The 30 members of the STAR Steering Group, including representation from the FCA, met in London on Thursday 6th June at the offices of Transact. Members of the group are determined to galvanise the industry into signing to the initiative and its goal of improving the outcomes for individuals wanting to transfer their assets, such as pensions and investments.
The STAR initiative officially launched in November 2018 and already has 32 companies and organisations committed to shaping recognised, industry-wide standards to promote good practice in transfers.
The STAR remit is clearly defined and will:
The meeting, which was Chaired by Tom McPhail of Hargreaves Lansdown, covered the Terms of Reference for the Steering Group and brought the group up to date with the progress made; regulatory support; four step programme of work; delivery framework and next steps.
The group appointed Ravi Grewal, Manager, Operations, Interactive Investor, as Deputy Chair.
Tom McPhail commenting said: "There is no silver bullet to solve the issue of the fact that industry systems and processes are not consistent and that transfer times vary between providers. That said, the fact that the STAR initiative has held its first Steering Group, with such widespread industry representation and regulatory support from the FCA, shows that the industry is willing to get this over the line.
“This forum is a key stage in collaboration that will galvanise the industry to forge ahead with change and to improve things for consumers. We now have 32 organisations pledged to support STAR and this is a great foundation on which to build. I was delighted with the level of engagement and the fact that we have secured a Deputy Chair in Ravi Grewal, Manager, Operations, Interactive Investor. The coming months will see the working groups kick in to action. The first Working Group is scheduled to meet on 20th June and we have over 25 delegates confirmed. We have also let organisations have participation agreements so we are progressing.
“In its March paper the FCA encouraged industry members not already involved in the initiative 'to consider taking part as a way of improving the switching process and achieving better outcomes for consumers.'
“Through STAR, the industry has the opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to improving consumer outcomes, in advance of the Regulator’s further paper based on the consultation, which is due in Winter 2019.”
Aegon, AJ Bell, Aviva, B&CE, Barclays, Barnett Waddingham, BNY Mellon Pershing, DST Funds, Equiniti, Fidelity, FNZ, Fusion Wealth, Genpact, Hargreaves Lansdown, Hodge Lifetime, Interactive Investor, Invesco, Janus Henderson, Legal & General, LV=, Old Mutual Wealth, Parmenion, Phoenix Group, Prudential, ReAssure, Royal London, Scottish Widows, Smart Pension, Standard Life Aberdeen, Transact, Wealthtime and Zurich
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STAR is a joint venture launched by Criterion and TeX and is tasked with delivering an industry standard for the transfer and re-registration of consumer’s money and investments from one financial company to another. This will significantly improve the transfer performance of the industry.
Criterion was formed for the industry in July 2017, as an independent, not-for-profit industry body providing Standards and Governance services. It was originally part of Origo Services Ltd and has been publishing process and integration standards for almost 25 years.
Criterion has publicly stated that the organisation is working towards full independence, building upon the formation of an independent Board of Directors, and Executive team, discussions ongoing with shareholders, this is estimated to be achieved by 2020. Criterion is uniquely positioned to facilitate and drive cross-industry engagement, helping organisations achieve higher levels of collaboration, reduce costs and achieve better outcomes for their consumers.
Criterion is trusted by around 400 companies to deliver standards underpinning millions of mission-critical transactions every week. This includes:
In addition, Criterion Common Declarations have supported more than 2.2 million pension transfers, worth more than £110bn. Criterion has a proven track record and can demonstrate legitimacy and buy-in from across the financial services industry, having delivered leadership to influence continuous improvement across the industry for several decades. Criterion works in collaboration and with the assistance of various industry associations to drive positive behaviour.