Created with Fabric.js 3.6.3

Questions and Answers

The long-term solution to improving customer experience of transferring savings and investments between companies by setting and measuring against a good practice framework.

A growing community of firms have signed up to the STAR initiative, which officially launched in January 2019 and has organisations committed to shaping recognised, industry-wide standards to promote good practice in transfers. The STAR initiative is the only cross-industry solution bringing together platforms, providers, life companies and transfer agents and asset managers, to galvanise the industry in its goal.

STAR works with the government to assess against agreed standards.

STAR is a joint venture between Criterion and TeX and is provided by CT Holdings and Services Limited (CTHS). It operates as a not-for-profit private company, limited by guarantee.

The STAR remit is clearly defined and will:

  • Define the processes required to complete a transfer;
  • Specify good practice targets for each of those processes;
  • Measure, recognise and accredit performance excellence across the industry.

The fact of being officially recognised, accepted, or approved of, or the act of officially recognising, accepting, or approving of something.

Accreditation is a formal, third-party recognition of competence to perform specific tasks within agreed SLAs. It provides a means to identify a proven competency so that consumers can make an informed choice.

STAR Accreditation is designed to measure, recognise and accredit transfer performance excellence across the industry.

Accreditation Levels

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Bronze


The STAR Accreditation Steering Group manages the framework for Accreditation.

Fundamental to the STAR initiative, is that organisations are accredited, dependent upon their performance.

The STAR Steering Group has agreed that an Accreditation Steering Group (ASG) should be established to manage STAR Accreditation. 

Purpose

The Purpose of the ASG is to manage the framework, process and maintenance for STAR Accreditation. Specifically, it includes:

  • agreeing the Accreditation Framework;
  • setting and managing the Accreditation timeline;
  • reviewing Accreditation thresholds on an annual basis;
  • validating accreditation levels set for STAR members;
  • defining and managing Accreditation marks;
  • creating and supporting an appeals process.


The ASG reports into the STAR Steering Group.

Membership

The ASG has around 20 members, which consist of STAR members from across the SLA workstreams and observers from industry, consumer and regulatory bodies.

All ASG members must be committed to contribute time and effort to support ASG activities. ASG members should act in the best interests of the industry and the STAR initiative rather than an individual company’s interest.

The output of the STAR initiative will be a quarterly industry index and an annual accreditation scheme of bronze, silver and gold, so that performance can be evidenced and rewarded.

These are yet to be defined but for example, Gold could include:

  • Adoption and implementation of standard customer communication.
  • MI delivered and shared in line with Steering Group policy.
  • 95% of all process instances comply within set SLAs in past year.


MI is submitted monthly via the STAR portal. Members will receive a report, showing their performance against the aggregated total for their SLA and overall time performance. Accreditations are awarded annually. Initially, STAR needs a minimum of three months of MI per SLA to assess accreditation. This includes the analysis of data and the ratification by the STAR Accreditation Group.   

STAR collects and publishes the performance of companies when executing transfers, which provides regulators, customers and their financial advisers with clear evidence of a commitment to improve their performance. This creates a competitive advantage for organisations involved in STAR, who are leading and driving industry change when it comes to switching.

Any organisation involved in the transfer process and reporting of MI. This includes:

  • Platform providers.
  • Pension providers (Personal Pension / SIPP / Occupational DC). Please note that DB is not currently in scope.
  • Fund managers.
  • Transfer agents.
  • Greater certainty and speed for transfers.
  • Improved control for your customers when transferring.
  • Increased competition – with the FCA believing accreditation will have a positive impact on competition and allow smaller firms to enter the market.
  • Enable firms to demonstrate to regulators their commitment to good practice and to the continued development of industry standards.
  • Supports FCA / government thinking.
  • Recognition for delivering good practice.
  • The ongoing collection and publication of performance in executing transfers, as well as a list of the firms which have chosen to participate, will provide regulators and customers with clear evidence of how firms are behaving.
  • As well as having happier clients, participating firms will also benefit from greater certainty in dealing with counterparties, leading to fewer queries and lower administration costs.
  • Better communication, universal standards, continuous improvement and improved transparency.

STAR is not a regulator and does not have any legal or regulatory enforcement powers.

STAR does however have an ‘oversight’ function and works to ensure that those organisations’ it accredits meets industry agreed standards that are FCA, DWP and TPR endorsed.

The initiative has support from the Pensions Minister, across the wider industry and Government.

In April 2021, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) confirmed it was happy with progress made by the industry through the STAR initiative. The FCA will continue to monitor the initiative in 2022 and consider further action if necessary.

Holding STAR accreditation is an indication of industry agreed standards and competency using specific agreed criteria around processes. It is in no way an overall endorsement of a product or service.

STAR is not-for-profit organisation and is endorsed by the FCA, DWP and TPR.

Criterion and TeX, the organisations behind STAR are not-for-profit organisations. All participants can be confident that improvements in transfer performance that the STAR framework will bring, are not delivered at undue expense. Organisations who support STAR agree to fund the initiative.

Funding is transparent, sustainable and free from commercial bias. Costs are borne equitably across broad pool of industry participants.

The funding is £3,000 plus VAT one-off joining fee per parent company and £1,700 plus VAT annually per SLA for each brand registration within a Group.

Accreditations are awarded annually based on the MI submitted. Initially, STAR needs a minimum of three months of MI per SLA to assess accreditation. This includes the analysis of data and the ratification by the Accreditation Steering Group.  

Full list of participating members and their accreditations can be viewed on our website.

STAR is unable to provide information regarding participants until the MI has been provided, analysed and the STAR Accreditation Steering Group has approved the decision on accreditation.

You should speak to the organisation to determine where they are in the process as it is possible that some organisations could use the statement ‘working towards becoming accredited/certified’ may not be actively pursuing an application.

If you believe any such claims such to be bogus you should report this to enquiries@joinstar.co.uk

No, the STAR accreditation scheme is currently a UK based initiative only.

We are committed to providing a professional accreditation service and aim to maintain the highest standards in all our dealings with our customers, third parties and stakeholders. However, we recognise that on occasion, it may be necessary for our customers, or those using accredited services to raise a complaint with us.

If you are a third party who has concerns about the activities of STAR, then we want to hear about it.

Full details of how to register a complaint or provide feedback can be found in our Complaints Policy. 

Details of accreditation for all participating organisations can be found on our website.  The STAR website shows the level of accreditation for each brand submitted from a company Group.

Accreditation is valid for a calendar year and all STAR accreditation logos are clearly labelled with the year of accreditation and the product / SLA set.

Accreditations are awarded annually based on the MI submitted. STAR needs initially a minimum of three months of MI per SLA to assess accreditation. This includes the analysis of data and the ratification by a sub-committee of the STAR Accreditation group. 

Accreditation is overseen by the Accreditation Steering Group.

The FCA wants to see that governance is working around accreditation and the remedies if standards are not met.  The FCA assessment recognised that everyone is aware of their obligations under completion law. 

Volume information is collected purely for STAR’s internal calculations.  Volume information is not shared with any other STAR participant or STAR governance group.

Last updated 6 January 2022.

© 2021 CT Holdings and Services Limited (CTHS), a joint venture between TISA Exchange Limited and Criterion Tec Limited.

All rights reserved. Company number: 11700872.