We welcome action taken by a number of pension providers to review and strengthen their competition compliance

As part of the retirement income market study we reviewed a number of distribution arrangements and strategies of different pension providers.

While we did not have competition concerns with the majority of the arrangements we looked at, there were some specific ones that we wanted to understand better and in the report we committed to engaging with a number of firms to obtain further information.

We contacted the firms, and reviewed a number of distribution agreements and minutes of meetings related to the performance of those agreements. As a result we discovered that some of these meetings appeared to operate without any competition compliance protocol to prevent the disclosure of commercially sensitive information.

We sent letters to a number of firms putting them on notice of the potential for infringements of competition law. These letters are similar to the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) practice of sending warning letters and place a responsibility on the recipients to confirm what action they plan to take, and by when, to address the identified  concerns. This is the first time we have issued such letters.

We subsequently met with the firms to further understand the arrangements in question. As a result of our actions, the firms have undertaken a number of initiatives to strengthen competition compliance including:

  • reviewing and self-assessing the arrangements in question as well as other similar arrangements that they have in place
  • introducing and/or reviewing and updating their competition compliance protocols
  • ensuring that all key staff receive competition law training, and that this is regularly reviewed and updated

We would encourage other firms to review their distribution and marketing arrangements to ensure that they comply with competition law. In particular, when engaging with actual or potential competitors, firms should take care not to disclose any commercially sensitive information.

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