In 2015 Courtiers launched its Group Self Invested Personal Pension (Group SIPP) to help corporate clients meet automatic enrolment obligations. For some time we’d viewed the group pension offerings from major insurers as seriously deficient. We put this down to declining service standards, poor product innovation, complex charges and a lack of transparency. Put simply, we felt we could do a better job.
In the early stages, a key challenge was to convince prospective clients to entrust their workplace pensions to a smaller company. We committed to ensuring our Group SIPP addressed the shortcomings we’d identified with other providers’ pensions – if we couldn’t beat them on size, we could certainly beat them on quality.
Part of the background work involved the appointment of an independent Governance Advisory Arrangement (GAA) to oversee the operation of our Group SIPP and to provide an objective assessment of our success in delivering an excellent pension product.
What is a GAA?
A GAA is an independent committee, assembled to regularly review our Group SIPP while representing and protecting the interests of all Courtiers Group SIPP members.
Core objectives of the Courtiers GAA
- Operate independently of our business
- Act solely in the interest of the members of our Group SIPP, and
- Assess and, where necessary, challenge Courtiers on whether our Group SIPP provides value for money.
In order to meet these objectives the GAA is given ongoing access to a vast array of data and is able to independently verify our performance figures against publically-available sources (such as Morningstar, a major global investment analysis platform).
Our GAA committee consists of five individuals:
- three from PSIT Limited, the UK’s second largest professional trustee company
- two from Courtiers.
We chose PSIT because of its long and distinguished history in the UK pension sector and we knew that it was a name we could trust to care for our clients’ interests.
What power does the GAA hold?
In short, a lot. If there’s ever a disagreement amongst our GAA Committee, the balance between PSIT (60%) and Courtiers (40%) ensures PSIT always holds the deciding vote.
Reviews and reports
The GAA committee meets every six months and produces a full report once a year, copies of which are published on our website.
How it works
The GAA has an obligation to continually assess our Group SIPP’s value for money and to raise any concerns directly with us in the first instance. If any concerns cannot be resolved between the GAA and Courtiers, or if the concerns are sufficiently serious at outset, the GAA must:
- escalate the matter promptly to our regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
- notify our members directly.
What’s the GAA’s view on Courtiers?
We’re pleased to say that the first three annual reports have been glowing, with no concerns raised. Since launching in 2015, the GAA committee has remained entirely satisfied that our Group SIPP is well run and is offering excellent value for money to our members.
Geared for growth
Courtiers continues to provide more solutions for more businesses and ongoing GAA reviews ensure that our Group SIPP remains effective. Rules and regulations in our industry rarely stand still and, while that can seem challenging at times, we can fine tune and evolve our proposition wherever opportunities arise.
For more information about the Courtiers Group SIPP, or to understand the range of Courtiers Corporate Services available, please speak with your Adviser or contact us.