FCA publishes guidance on pension reforms announced in Budget 2014

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) today published guidance for firms following the changes to pension legislation, announced in Budget 2014.

In light of the Budget announcements, firms will need to make changes to their operational processes and procedures. They will also need to consider how to treat those customers who are making a decision about their retirement income in the coming year.

This guidance provides clarity on the FCA’s expectations of firms during the interim period (from Budget 2014 to April 2015 when many of the Budget changes come into force).

The FCA wants to ensure that customers are making informed decisions about their retirement in light of the Budget changes and so is issuing guidance to firms on what they should consider in communication with different customer groups, including:

  • those customers who applied for an annuity shortly before the Budget announcements who are still in the cancellation period
  • those currently considering their retirement options
  • customers approaching retirement
  • those who applied for income drawdown shortly before the Budget, and
  • those customers using income drawdown to provide for retirement income who are still in the cancellation period.

The guidance is relevant to:

  • Pension providers (both insurers and SIPP operators)
  • Annuity providers
  • Income drawdown providers
  • Financial advisers providing retirement income advice, and
  • Intermediaries selling annuities and income drawdown products on a non-advised basis (including comparison websites, brokers, and investment platforms).

Many firms are already making changes to their processes and procedures and are highlighting the changes from the Budget to their customers, which the FCA welcomes. The FCA has highlighted some of these examples as good practice in its guidance. Some firms have asked the FCA for clarification of its expectations during the period until April 2015, which the guidance provides.

The FCA would welcome feedback and comments on this guidance from industry and consumer organisations.

HM Treasury, HM Revenue and Customs, and the Association of British Insurers have today issued further guidance and information to firms as part of a coordinated approach to support firms and their customers through the changes in the retirement landscape.

Notes for editors

  1. Budget 2014 – Pension reforms: guidance to firms in the interim period.
  2. On 1 April 2013 the FCA became responsible for the conduct supervision of all regulated financial firms and the prudential supervision of those not supervised by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA).
  3. The FCA has an overarching strategic objective of ensuring the relevant markets function well. To support this it has three operational objectives: to secure an appropriate degree of protection for consumers; to protect and enhance the integrity of the UK financial system; and to promote effective competition in the interests of consumers.
  4. Find out more information about the FCA.