The main reason Collins Pension Actuaries asks parties to gather pension information is that ultimately it is a quicker means of obtaining a Report.
The Provision of Information Regulations governing what pension information should be supplied in a divorce case is narrow and open to different interpretations.
Those regulations were not designed with the author of a Pension Sharing Report in mind. This means that pension schemes often provide very limited information which is not sufficient for a Report and it is necessary to ask the scheme member to request underlying details about their pension from the pension scheme.
In some instances this can be obtained instantly. For example, a State Pension Forecast can be obtained online using the Government Gateway service in 15 minutes while teachers can obtain their service history using an online portal on the Teachers’ Pension Scheme website.
However, some schemes can take several weeks or even months to provide even the most basic of factual information and our experience is that schemes do not respond as quickly to third party requests for data compared to if that request had been made directly by the scheme member.
Furthermore, even when a scheme member’s letter of authority is supplied by a third party, pension schemes will often send the information directly to the scheme member anyway, leading to further delays.
With over 27 years of requesting information from pension schemes, it is our pensions actuary’s experience that pension schemes receiving third party requests for information treat them with much lower priority than if they were receiving them directly from the member themselves.
Another significant advantage of scheme member’s requesting information directly themselves is that they can expedite the provision of information themselves by contacting their pension schemes and expressing dissatisfaction about untimely responses to data requests. Such an approach has much less effect if undertaken by Collins Pension Actuaries as a professional organisation compared to the direct contact to a pension scheme by the scheme member themselves.
Other factors that cause delays include scheme members changing their address, but not updating their new contact details with their pension scheme. The consequence of this is that Collins Pension Actuaries often has to wait weeks simply to be told that a letter of authority is not valid because the address given on it does not match the scheme records.
In terms of timescales, Collins Pension Actuaries has found that if it accepts data collection responsibility it has been unreasonably held accountable for missed deadlines in terms of Court Hearings. This is patently unfair when Collins Pension Actuaries is not responsible for the provision of the information, but is simply a third party collecting the information.
Finally, Collins Pension Actuaries believes that it is in the member’s best interests to take responsibility for the collection of information relating to their pensions.
The parties have a vested interest in obtaining the information as quickly as possible in order to help expedite the production of a Pension Sharing Report and to enable them to then reach a satisfactory divorce settlement and most importantly to then be in a position to move on with the next stage of their lives.
All of the above reasons have led Collins Pension Actuaries to conclude that it is quicker and in the best interests of the parties if they collect the pension data required for a Pension Sharing Report themselves.
To that end Collins Pension Actuaries has provided comprehensive assistance on our website to guide parties through the process.
All that is required is take time to read the website in full, fill in the relevant pension data collection letters and send them to your pension scheme requesting the information. As and when you receive information, then please provide copies to Collins Pension Actuaries so that we can advise you of what further details might be required.
If you have not yet created your Data Collection Letters then you can do so below: