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Tom McPhail to be founding chair of STAR Steering Group

12 February 2019

Tom McPhail, head of Policy at Hargreaves Lansdown, has been announced as the founding chair of the Steering Group for STAR, a venture established to help bring the industry together to address the inconsistencies in transfer times for pensions and investments.

The announcement was made at an ABI-hosted seminar attended by over 90 industry representatives gathered to hear more about STAR and how they could become involved in the initiative.

The Steering Group will have members selected by participants of STAR. It will set the priorities and oversee the operational delivery of underlying working groups. These will be tasked with creating and maintaining service level agreements (SLAs) to be adopted by the industry to effect smoother transfers for consumers across the pensions and investments industry.

Explaining his and Hargreaves Lansdown commitment to STAR, McPhail said: “Government and Regulators have set a clear challenge to the industry: fix this for the benefit of your customers or we’ll impose regulations on you. Like many other companies, Hargreaves Lansdown is working hard to improve our processes and to go the extra mile for our customers. But the problem only really gets fixed if everyone works together to a set of common standards. We’ve signed up to this initiative because we know that in end, the cost of doing this will be more than off-set by the savings we’ll make from faster, simpler administration and because we can’t expect others to sign up if we’re not prepared to put our money where our mouth is.”

Caroline Mansley, MD of Criterion, said STAR was delighted that Tom McPhail had agreed to be chair as he had chaired the Transfers and Industry Re-Registration Group (TRIG) for two years “so knows the issues inside and out. Also, it is important that we have an independent chair who can lead the Steering Group in this important work for the industry.”

Mansley said senior members of the STAR team would attend the independent Steering Group and the FCA, TPR and DWP, as well as consumer groups, would be invited to observe its work.

Carol Knight, Director of TeX, said STAR’s remit was to define industry-wide SLAs and promote best practice transfers, thereby improving processes and speed of transfers  across the industry.

“It’s about driving forward a set of agreements to optimise the consumer experience.”

Knight stressed STAR was not about how companies improved their transfer performance. Individual companies were in the driving seat in that respect she said. STAR is about meeting industry targets and evidencing better performance.

“Joining STAR is about your commitment to working together as an industry to improve transfers for the consumer. This is your opportunity to step up to the mark and become part of the conversation.”

14 organisations had committed in principle to supporting STAR prior to the event. Mansley said she saw the initiative  “as a snowball which now is rolling and will quickly grow momentum and create impetus across the industry.  This is not an issue that is going away. It is one firmly within the immediate focus of government and the Regulator.”

She added that STAR had estimated there are over 400 processes that would require defining in respect of SLAs and a first task would be to identify where there were overlaps. “We will be identifying the processes that are different and leveraging what is common,” she said.

STAR is looking to have 30 founding members signed up by the end of March 2019 with representation across the breadth of the industry.

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