COBS 19.8 Disclosure of transaction costs and administration charges in connection with workplace pension schemes

Interpretation

COBS 19.8.1R

1In this section:

  1. (1)

    ‘administration charges’, in relation to a member of a pension scheme, means any of the following to the extent that they may be used to meet the administrative expenses of the scheme, to pay commission or in any other way that does not result in the provision of pension benefits for or in respect of members:

    1. (a)

      any payments made to the scheme by, or on behalf or in respect of, the member; or

    2. (b)

      any income or capital gain arising from the investment of such payments; or

    3. (c)

      the value of the member’s rights under the scheme;

    but an administration charge does not include any charge made for costs:

    1. (d)

      incurred directly as a result of buying, selling, lending or borrowing investments; or

    2. (e)

      incurred solely in providing benefits in respect of the death of such a member; or

    3. (f)

      incurred in complying with a court order, where that order has provided that the operator, trustee or manager of the scheme may recover those costs; or

    4. (g)

      arising from earmarking orders or pension sharing arrangements pursuant to regulations made under section 24 or section 41 of the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999.

  2. (2)

    ‘anti-dilution mechanism’ is any method used to the benefit of an investment to offset the impact of inflows or outflows from that investment, whether by way of:

    1. (a)

      a levy; or

    2. (b)

      any adjustment enabling further investment into, or redemption of investments from, the investment.

  3. (3)

    ‘arrangement’, in connection with a relevant scheme, is any investment available to scheme members for the investment of their pension contributions.

  4. (4)

    ‘transaction costs’ are costs incurred as a result of the buying, selling, lending or borrowing of investments.

Application

COBS 19.8.2R

1This section applies to:

  1. (1)

    an operator of a relevant scheme; and

  2. (2)

    a firm which holds information needed for the calculation of transaction costs or administration charges in the course of providing services in connection with:

    1. (a)

      a relevant scheme;

    2. (b)

      an arrangement; or

    3. (c)

      an investment in which an arrangement is directly or indirectly invested.

Purpose

COBS 19.8.3G
  1. (1)

    1The purpose of the rules in this section is to enable governance bodies of workplace pension schemes to meet their obligations as set out in (2) and (3) by obliging firms which hold the relevant information to calculate transaction costs to a common standard and provide that information, and information on administration charges, to governance bodies.

  2. (2)

    An operator of a workplace personal pension scheme or stakeholder pension scheme is obliged under COBS 19.5.7R(2) to take reasonable steps to provide its IGC (or governance advisory arrangement) with all information reasonably requested by it for the purpose of carrying out its role. The role of an IGC, under COBS 19.5.5R(2), must include the assessment of value for money delivered by relevant schemes through the assessment of transaction costs (among other things).

  3. (3)

    The trustees or managers of an occupational pension scheme are obliged to calculate, insofar as they are able to do so, the transaction costs borne by scheme members, and to assess the extent to which those costs represent good value for members. (See regulation 25 of the Occupational Pension Schemes (Scheme Administration) Regulations 1996 (SI 1996/1715) as amended by the Occupational Pension Schemes (Charges and Governance) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/879)).

Obligation to disclose transaction costs and administration charges

COBS 19.8.4R

1A firm must respond in a reasonable time and in a reasonably acceptable format to a request for information relating to transaction costs and administration charges relating to a particular arrangement (or any investment in which the arrangement is directly or indirectly invested) over a period of time from or on behalf of:

  1. (1)

    an operator, trustee or manager of a relevant scheme; or

  2. (2)

    another firm seeking to comply with its obligations under this section.

COBS 19.8.5R

1In responding to the request referred to in COBS 19.8.4R, the firm must:

  1. (1)

    calculate the transaction costs incurred in relation to the arrangement or investment to which the request relates (including transaction costs incurred in any investment in which the arrangement or investment is directly or indirectly invested) in accordance with this section;

  2. (2)

    disclose the results of the aggregation of those transaction costs to the requesting person, along with a breakdown of the identifiable elements of those costs;

  3. (3)

    disclose the administration charges incurred in that arrangement or any investment to which the request relates (including administration charges incurred in any investment in which the arrangement or investment is directly or indirectly invested); and

  4. (4)

    provide other relevant information which would or may assist in making comparisons between the costs or charges in (1) to (3) and the equivalent costs or charges of other pension schemes where available.

COBS 19.8.6G
  1. (1)

    1The breakdown of identifiable transaction costs should include at least taxes, explicit fees and charges, and costs in connection with securities lending and borrowing.

  2. (2)

    Other relevant information regarding transaction costs or administration charges might include, in relation to each arrangement (or investment in which the arrangement is directly or indirectly invested): the investment return, measures of risk, portfolio turnover rate, proportion of securities loaned or borrowed, costs other than transaction costs, and typical and maximum levels of entry, exit and switching costs. This is not an exhaustive list, and firms should use discretion based on the composition of each particular arrangement (or investment in which the arrangement is directly or indirectly invested).

  3. (3)

    Where it is not possible to calculate the amount of transaction costs or administration charges attributable to an arrangement (or investment in which the arrangement is directly or indirectly invested), a pro rata approach may be used, which assumes that transaction costs and administration charges are incurred evenly over time. A pro rata approach may also be used where information is not available for a full period or in other situations where the provision of information would otherwise be subject to unreasonable delay.

  4. (4)

    When calculating administration charges for a default arrangement, firms should have regard to COBS 19.6 (Restriction on charges in qualifying schemes) and the Occupational Pension Schemes (Charges and Governance) Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/879).

Taking reasonable steps to obtain necessary information

COBS 19.8.7R

1If a firm does not have the information necessary to comply with COBS 19.8.4R and COBS 19.8.5R, then it must:

  1. (1)

    take reasonable steps to obtain that information; or

  2. (2)

    where, despite having taken such reasonable steps, it remains unable to comply with COBS 19.8.4R and COBS 19.8.5R, provide a written explanation to the requesting party explaining why, including the percentage of investments in the arrangement (or investment in which the arrangement is directly or indirectly invested) for which information cannot be obtained, and indicating the categories of investments involved.

COBS 19.8.8G
  1. (1)

    1In taking reasonable steps to obtain information about transaction costs or administration charges, a firm should request the information from other firms involved in providing services in connection with the relevant scheme, arrangement, or investment in which the arrangement is directly or indirectly invested.

  2. (2)

    A firm, when seeking information about transaction costs or administration charges, should consider the materiality of that information to the calculation of costs and charges overall for each arrangement, in particular the degree to which it is necessary to look through to transactions in underlying investments in order to arrive at a fair assessment of the costs or charges of each arrangement.

Calculation of transaction costs for buying and selling transactions

COBS 19.8.9R

1A firm must calculate the transaction cost of buying or selling an investment as the difference between arrival price (AP) and execution price (EP) of that investment, multiplied by the number of units of, or in, the investment transacted, as follows:

  1. (1)

    AP and EP are determined in accordance with this section;

  2. (2)

    where an investment is purchased:

    transaction cost = (EP-AP) x (units); and

  3. (3)

    where an investment is sold:

    transaction cost = (AP-EP) x (units).

Arrival Price (AP)

COBS 19.8.10R

1A firm must determine the arrival price as follows:

  1. (1)

    for a transferable security, or other investment which there are frequent opportunities to dispose of, redeem, or otherwise realise at a price publicly available to market participants that is either a market price or a price made available or validated by valuation systems independent of the issuer:

    1. (a)

      the market mid-price at the time the order was transmitted to another person for execution or was executed, whichever is earlier

    2. (b)

      if no such price is available, then the last available mid-price on the day the order was executed, or, if this is not available, the closing mid-price on the day before; or

    3. (c)

      if the order to transact was executed on a day other than the day it was transmitted to another person for execution, the market opening mid-price on the day of execution, or, if this is not available, the closing mid-price the day before; or

    4. (d)

      if the order was executed during an auction, the most recently available mid-price of the asset prior to the auction; or

    5. (e)

      if an order is transmitted to another person for execution outside trading hours, the subsequent market opening mid-price.

  2. (2)

    for an investment fund or other vehicle priced on a periodic basis:

    1. (a)

      for a dual-priced vehicle, the fair value mid-price of the vehicle at the pricing point when the transaction took place; or

    2. (b)

      for a single-priced vehicle, the fair value price of the vehicle at the pricing point when the transaction took place, prior to any dilution adjustment.

  3. (3)

    for physical (in other words, real or tangible) assets, the price paid for that physical asset, excluding all charges, commissions, taxes and other payments associated with the transaction.

  4. (4)

    for any other investment which does not fall into (1), (2) or (3):

    1. (a)

      the most recent independent valuation prior to the order to transact being executed, or, if earlier, transmitted to another person for execution, adjusted appropriately for market movements using an appropriate benchmark index; or

    2. (b)

      if no such valuation is available, then an estimate based on a reasonable appraisal of the fair value of the asset prior to the order to transact being executed.

Arrival Price (AP): supplemental provision for multiple orders on the same day

COBS 19.8.11R

1Where an order is split into multiple orders (‘child orders’) in the same investment and transmitted on the same day, the arrival price of the first child order must be used as the arrival price of all subsequent child orders on that day.

Arrival Price (AP): supplemental provision for initial public offerings, placings and other issuance of securities

COBS 19.8.12R

1 For orders in initial public offerings, placings and other issuance of securities, the transaction price must be used as the arrival price.

Arrival Price (AP): supplemental provisions for derivatives

COBS 19.8.13R

1 When determining the arrival price for a derivative where there is no publicly available price, a firm must determine the fair value price of the derivative.

COBS 19.8.14G
  1. (1)

    1When considering the basis for determining transaction costs relating to derivatives, a firm should take into account:

    1. (a)

      the existence of any multiplier or scalar in arriving at the correct number of units;

    2. (b)

      the nature of the derivative;

    3. (c)

      the availability and transparency of prices of the derivative itself;

    4. (d)

      where applicable, the nature and value of the assets underlying the derivative, including their price transparency and relative proportions within that derivative; and

    5. (e)

      any other costs associated with the derivative.

  2. (2)

    When determining the fair value price, a firm should adopt a fair value approach in line with prevailing market conventions.

Arrival Price (AP): supplemental provision for foreign exchange

COBS 19.8.15R

1A firm must, in relation to a transaction involving foreign exchange, determine the arrival price using a reasonable estimate of the consolidated price rather than the price available from a single counterparty or foreign exchange platform, even if an agreement exists to undertake all foreign exchange transactions with a single counterparty.

Execution Price (EP)

COBS 19.8.16R

1A firm must determine the execution price as the price at which a transaction is executed including all charges, commissions, taxes and other payments associated with the transaction, directly or indirectly, where those payments are made from the assets of the arrangement or of any investment in which the arrangement is directly or indirectly invested.

Calculation of transaction costs for lending and borrowing transactions

COBS 19.8.17R

1A firm must calculate the transaction cost of a loan transaction as the difference between the charge paid by the ultimate borrower in relation to that loan and the amount received by the arrangement (or underlying investment).

COBS 19.8.18G

1The amounts used to calculate the transaction cost of a loan transaction should include all fees, commissions, charges and other costs levied by intermediaries involved in the transaction regardless of the legal structures involved.

COBS 19.8.19R

1To determine the transaction cost of a borrowing transaction, a firm must use the amount paid for the loan.

Aggregation

COBS 19.8.20R

1 The firm must aggregate and disclose, separately, the following transaction costs for each arrangement or investment and period to which the request relates:

  1. (1)

    the sum of the transaction costs for buy and sell transactions factoring in anti-dilution mechanisms (see COBS 19.8.21R); and

  2. (2)

    the sum of the transaction costs for lending and borrowing transactions.

Treatment of anti-dilution mechanisms

COBS 19.8.21R

1A firm using an anti-dilution mechanism in connection with an arrangement or investment may factor this into the aggregate transaction costs calculation as follows:

  1. (1)

    where a levy is used, the monetary value of that levy may be subtracted from the aggregate transaction costs; and

  2. (2)

    where an adjustment is made by enabling further investment into or redemption from an investment, the value of the benefit accruing to the investment may be subtracted from the aggregate transaction costs.