UK – Pension providers have agreed to the "consistent and straightforward" disclosure of fees, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has announced.
According to the insurance lobby group, more than a dozen providers – including B&CE, Legal & General and Prudential – have signed off on proposals to bring in the new fee disclosure structures by the end of 2015 at the latest.
Stephen Gay, director of life, savings and protection at the ABI, said the agreement demonstrated the industry's "commitment to improving customer understanding" by disclosing all charges clearly.
It comes after the National Association of Pension Funds, the ABI, investment management association IMA and the Society of Pension Funds published an industry code on fee disclosure, cautiously welcomed by pensions minister Steve Webb as a "useful starting point".
In response to the ABI's announcement, Webb said it marked a "welcome step", but urged providers to act fast after the lobby group said new disclosure agreements would be implemented by next summer across all new auto-enrolment funds and by the end of 2015 among legacy funds.
"The industry must be ambitious in its timescales for achieving greater transparency," Webb said. "Automatic-enrolment makes it all the more important that people have access to schemes that offer both transparent and value for money charges."
As part of the industry code on fees announced last year, a website will be launched by April disclosing all fees.
From a month after the site is launched, presumably May this year, all areas of disclosure outlined in the code will come into effect.
Meanwhile, industry commentators have continued to welcome the Pensions Regulator's consultation on the future of defined contribution (DC) funds.
Mercer said it welcomed all attempts to clarify what was expected of DC funds, but warned that meeting any new disclosure requirements must not become the focus over improving governance itself.
However, Paul Macro, head of the consultancy's DC business, spoke out against implicit and explicit warnings by the regulator in recent weeks that smaller funds should not be used for automatic enrolment.
"The idea that small schemes cannot be run to appropriate standards is not the case," he said. "Rather, it is the willingness of those governing schemes to do what is necessary that is crucial."
Similarly, Clive Grimley, partner at Barnett Waddingham, called on the regulator to offer increased levels of support to small funds.
"The Pensions Regulator has commented that perhaps some smaller schemes may find the proposed new regime a challenge," he said. "I would argue that it is exactly this population that needs more guidance from the regulators, bearing in mind the demographics of employment in the UK, which is heavily skewed towards smaller employers."
Grimley added that the regulator's challenge was therefore to develop a strong governance code that would not be "overly onerous" for smaller companies to put in place.