Peter Dyer, head of administration at Hymans Robertson explains why the company applied for PASA Accreditation and how the process worked
We have supported PASA from its inception in 2011 with both time commitment and sponsorship through our Corporate Membership.
Applying for Accreditation and achieving it was not a change of direction for us because our administration delivery model is built on the premise of a personal service for members and a partnering, pro-active relationship with clients. Instead, it was a way of formally confirming that our service is market leading in quality.
What is PASA Accreditation?
PASA Accreditation recognises the organisations in the pensions industry who have evidenced compliance with the PASA Standards.
Attaining PASA Accreditation is the gold standard for any high quality pensions administration provider, whether they are an in house team or a commercial organisation. It provides trustees with a means of reassurance regarding the administration of their pension scheme by ‘locking in’ to a recognised and credible framework and it provides independent recognition of the quality of service provided to members alongside a commitment to continuous improvement.
The Pensions Regulator and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have both identified that good administration can be demonstrated by independent accreditation.
Seeking Accreditation as a result was a natural thing to do to demonstrate our commitment to PASA. If our Accreditation encourages other administrators to do the same, which we hope it will, we believe it will support PASA’s primary aim of raising the quality and profile of pensions administration in the UK.”
We started with a gap analysis between the PASA published best practice Standards and our own. This work was divided into areas of activities and carried out by experienced administrators. The results were “RAG” coded.
Our next stage was to decide what improvements we needed to make, to address any areas coded “Red” and also which ones of those coded amber.
In practice, we did not find a conflict, but our approach was that we should only make changes that we believed would add value for our clients and their members and challenge ourselves very hard on any that we might be doing just for accreditation.
The process of accreditation started in late 2013, with the accreditation being awarded in October 2015.
The formal application and supporting information was submitted in March 2015 with the final on-site work undertaken by independent auditors to PASA, RSM in September 2015. RSM provided a report on its findings to the PASA Standards and Accreditation Committee soon after the final location visit. The committee considered the report and confirmed Hyman’s accredited status on 16 October 2015.
We contacted PASA to let them know that we considered ourselves ready for inspection in early 2015 and we were asked to submit evidence for our assertion.”
After examination of our submission by RSM, PASA informed us that it appeared from our submission that we were ready for inspection. We operate administration from three offices in Birmingham, Glasgow and London. RSM visited all three offices for their inspection of “outcomes” material and to interview randomly chosen staff on their competence and level of training.
RSM produced a report of their findings and their recommendation to PASA who decided that we had achieved the high standard required for PASA Accreditation.
What becoming accredited means to Hymans Robertson
Demonstrating our commitment to improving administration standards through our PASA involvement has already been well received by both our existing clients and potential new ones.
Achieving Accreditation has raised our standing in the market and can only increase this further, particularly when the Pensions Regulator has stated its support for PASA. Internally, our administrators are pleased and proud that their skills and experience are acknowledged through the PASA Accreditation.
Margaret Snowdon, Chair of PASA said of Hyman’s PASA Accreditation
“PASA Accredited administration is being proactively championed by TPR because it ensures that administrators are meeting the highest standards. To achieve PASA Accreditation, an organisation has to be truly outstanding, as well as determined and confident that it can meet the standards set out. PASA Accreditation looks at output-driven standards – focusing on the experiences of members and trustees and how they will progressively and continually improve over time. Attaining PASA Accreditation is the gold standard for high-quality pensions administration.”
As a third party administrator who is active in acquiring further business in the market and clearly wishing to retain the business we have, one of the drivers for Accreditation was the added competitive edge that this brings against those administrators who do not have Accreditation.
Being able to identify and address any areas where the best practice PASA Standards revealed an improvement was very helpful. We also welcomed the opportunity for our administrators to receive the acknowledgement they deserve alongside their consulting colleagues.
Advice for other organisations considering PASA accreditation
If the administrator is genuinely interested in the quality of its service, particularly to pension scheme members, the published PASA Standards provides a means of comparing outcomes against those considered by PASA to be best practice for administration. This analysis provides a lot of value in itself for an administrator.
If an administrator has compared itself against the PASA Standards and is confident that it performs well, the independent assessment to be awarded Accreditation is an objective way of demonstrating to trustees and sponsoring employers that their pension scheme members are in good hands because the highest standards are in place.
Future Demand for PASA Accreditation
We believe the demand from trustees for their administrator, whether a third party administrator or an in-house team, to be PASA Accredited will rise quite rapidly over the next few years.
Ultimately, an Accreditation by PASA or a similar validation of quality for their administrator could become mandatory for trustees.