Fairer Finance, the consumer voice in financial services, has endorsed the STAR initiative. STAR aims to galvanise the industry in its goal of improving the outcomes for individuals who want to transfer their assets, such as pensions and investments. This will significantly improve the transfer performance of the industry.
Fairer Finance was founded in 2014 by consumer champion James Daley. The business is a social enterprise which use its profits to pay for its campaigning work and to grow the business. Its mission is to create a financial services market which is fair for consumers as well as the companies that serve them. Fairer Finance represents the customer's voice in financial services.
A growing community of firms have signed up to the STAR initiative, which officially launched in November 2018 and already has over 40 companies and organisations committed to shaping recognised, industry-wide standards to promote good practice in transfers. The first steering group and working groups have met with more scheduled.
The STAR remit is clearly defined and will:
Tom McPhail, of Hargreaves Lansdown and Chair of the STAR Steering Committee: “We are delighted that Fairer finance is supporting the STAR initiative. It’s vitally important to us that we continue to focus on the customer, and it will really help that we can harness the expertise of James and his team. We are pleased with wide-ranging and extensive industry support we have received and continue to receive, which will help galvanise the industry to forge ahead with change and to improve things for customers.”
James Daley, MD fairer Finance: “The STAR initiative is an important move for the industry, and Fairer Finance is fully supportive and endorses the work they are doing. This is about the industry doing things better for their customers and through STAR, the industry has the opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to improving customers outcomes, in advance of the Regulator’s further paper based on the consultation, which is due in Winter 2019. Some customers still have to wait for a pension schemes to write out a cheque and post it to complete a transfer, which in this day and age, is hard to fathom. With reports of transfers regularly taking several months to complete, yet banking being subject to a 7-day switching guarantee, it should be no surprise that the FCA has taken a keen interest in resolving the issue for consumers."
Fairer Finance’s ratings tables and advice are free for people to use and they don’t take any kickbacks from companies for links and references on their website.
They pay for their research by selling Fairer Finance ribbons and star ratings. Companies who win a gold, silver or bronze ribbon, or a four or five star product rating, can buy a licence to use on their website or marketing material. Whether a company chooses to buy an endorsement has no bearing on where they appear in the Fairer Finance tables. Fairer Finance’s research is independent, and their Consumer Advisory Board is given the task of verifying that they don’t manipulate the data to serve their own commercial interests.
They also make money by working with companies. Thinking of it as changing the industry for the better from the inside out. Their main work involves helping companies improve their customer experience, helping them communicate clearly and consistently with their customers. They have particular expertise in reviewing and rewriting companies’ terms & conditions or policy documents, part of fulfilling their mission to rid the world of complex small print. But they also offer a range of other research and consultancy services.
STAR was created as a collaboration between Criterion and TeX, combining the industry-reach, unique strengths, experience and shared ambition of the two not-for-profit organisations.
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 over 25 years. 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.
TeX is a not-for-profit organisation which works with the industry to ensure that the maximum benefit is provided to all members. This new company is financially independent from TISA but benefits from being linked to the TISA brand through name, the expertise provided by the two corporate entity directorships and the administrative support provided by TISA. This gives the industry a number of benefits, including: