Data, whether it relates to the Investor, the ceding occupational scheme or the personal pension plan, forms the foundation of a redress calculation. Often, a considerable period of time has elapsed between the original advice point meaning that data gathering to enable calculations to be completed requires some skill. Experience is required to establish what information is needed and likely to be available, to interpret the data that is received and to decide what to do about missing data.
Step 1 – Engage with the Investor
A co-operative and engaged Investor is a good starting point. It will be advantageous to make it as easy as possible for the Investor to provide you with information that is going to assist; so make correspondence with the Investor as clear as possible so that they can easily understand what is required of them. If a Claims Management Company is involved they should be able to assist.
Having said this, it is unlikely that an Investor will have retained historical information - which in some cases can date back 30 or more years - and relying on an Investor to recall fact and events may understandably be somewhat unreliable. Therefore, where possible it is preferable to seek independent verification of key information. It is most likely that you will need to gather and collate information from one or more third parties.
Step 2 – Decide what information will be requested
The first challenge will be to establish what information should be requested and from whom. In some instances it may be apparent that information is not going to be available - for example if the occupational scheme is known to have deleted historic records. Where the occupational scheme has wound up or transitioned to the PPF trying to data gather may well prove futile and an alternative, pragmatic way forward will need to be agreed.
In some instances, it will be necessary to clarify details about specific features of the benefit structure of the ceding scheme in order to correctly carry out the redress calculation. Some of these questions may be very specialist and it will be necessary to phrase them carefully in order to obtain a meaningful response. Likewise, you may need to focus on the most material elements of the benefits, because asking too many questions is likely to result in a slow, or even no response from the occupational scheme.
Step 3 – Locating the occupational scheme or personal pension provider
Next you will need to work out the correct contact details for your data request. This is a particular issue for occupational schemes. Schemes contact details may have changes several times since the point of advice, for example due to scheme mergers or changes in Trustee advisors. Note that if there have been changes in administration, the current administrator may well not have full access to historic records, and this can again cause difficulties with data gathering.
Step 4 – Successful interaction with the occupational scheme or personal pension provider
In order to obtain any Investor specific information you will need to provide a letter of authority alongside your data request. The advent of GDPR means that most third parties now have fairly prescriptive requirements regarding the information that should appear on the authority letter. It is important to ensure that the correct information is on the letter of authority and that this information relates only to the third party in question. Also note that the third party will need to match the information on their records with that shown on the letter of authority, so if they hold out of date information (typically this could be the Investor’s address), it will be worth flagging this within the data gathering request. Occupational schemes may have specific requirements for releasing information in this situation for example, requiring the Investor to update their records before they responding to the data request. Be prepared to accept that some third parties despite the existence of an authority will only communicate direct with the Investor.
When seeking provider information you are without exception going to need to make sure that the Plan reference appears on the authority. You will therefore need to ensure that the investor has provided you with the correct reference number for their pension plan before you commence data gathering.
Be mindful that the data gathering stage can consume a considerable proportion of the time-line for completing a case. Extended timescales for data gathering are a particular issue for certain occupational schemes which are known to be slow to respond; for certain types of calculation where data gathering requirements are more extensive; and where monies have moved between different pension plans meaning that data gathering may be required from each provider.
Furthermore, the pandemic has in general had an adverse affect on data gathering; although it should be noted a few third parties are responding more quickly than pre-pandemic.
You may want to make the Investor and their claims manager aware of this – as delays in settlement can be perceived negatively and the potential complexity of data gathering is normally underestimated.
You may be lucky, data gathering can often be negotiated with a fairly smooth ride, but equally don’t underestimate the challenges that you may meet along the journey.
OAC has been carrying out pension redress calculations for over 25 years, assisting with all stages of the redress process from data gathering to preparing the offer letter. We offer a full data gathering service, including liaison with the Investor and claims manager as well as engagement with occupational schemes and pension providers.
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