Pickering's 2004 target 'very ambitious'

UK- The logistics and complexity of introducing the recommendations in Alan Pickering’s report on simplifying the pensions industry have come under fire from some sectors of the industry.

Pickering has proposed a ‘small number’ of codes of practice and guidance notes. “Most of these would be drafted by the regulator in consultation with interested parties.

"A few would be drafted by appropriate professional bodies and authorised by the new regulator/advisor; in a few cases it might be more appropriate for guidance to be authorised by the government,” he says.

Consultant Watson Wyatt welcomes the report but, says partner Colin Singer: “the way it will work in practice- the split between primary legislation, codes of practice professional guidance and increased scope for enhanced professional judgement- needs extremely careful thought if it is to be a durable and workable framework.

“it will be worth the effort but some patience will be required from both the government and other key stakeholders to ensure the concept reaches fruition. We have some doubts whether this can be achieved within the very ambitious target of 2003-2004.”

Pickering’s report comes two days after a review of the savings market by former Lloyds chief executive Ron Sandler and is the second in a trio of government-sponsored reports into simplifying the pensions industry. The Inland Revenue is to publish an additional report into simplifying pensions tax.

NAPF chairman, Peter Thompson said: “ the Pickering proposals offer a blueprint for practical steps forward and I urge the Government to follow this at the earliest opportunity.

“It is now vital that forthcoming proposals from the Inland Revenue lead to radical simplification of the tax regime for pensions, and that incentives both for employers and employees are introduced.”

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