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Auto-enrolment into old pension schemes could prompt mis-selling scandal

The pension’s industry could face a mis-selling scandal, if workers are automatically enrolled into old, high-charge pension schemes, according to the findings of a new report.

The warning from the Pension Institute, the UK’s only academic research centre focused on pensions research, comes amid concerns that employers may not have access to the advice they need to be made aware of lower-charge pension schemes.

This could leave workers signed up to old schemes with annual charges of up to 3%, as opposed to the 0.52% average yearly charge on new auto-enrolment schemes calculated by the Association of British Insurers.

This discrepancy could then prompt, a “mis-selling scandal on an unprecedented scale”, according to the report.

However, Pensions Institute director and report co-author Professor David Blake, argues that this situation is far from a foregone conclusion.
“Fortunately there is time to address the problem of old high-charging funds, which for historic reasons are still widely used in the smaller employer market,” he said.

“These employers are not required to introduce auto-enrolment immediately but many companies will need to be prepared by mid to late-2013.”

The report recommends that a kite-mark code should be introduced so that all employers can locate the schemes that offer the best value for money, while helping to “facilitate fair and equal treatment for all private sector employees, irrespective of how much they earn and the company for which they work.”

The recommendations come in the wake of Labour leader Ed Miliband’s calls for a 1% cap on pension charges.

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