An Origo and Fintech milestone

By Anthony Rafferty, Managing Director of Edinburgh-based Fintech Origo


This month marks a proud moment for Origo and a distinct milestone in Fintech history, namely the 10thanniversary of the launch of the Options Transfers service.

Origo was established in 1989 as a not-for-profit organisation with the remit to help the industry improve its efficiencies, cut its costs and improve the service to consumers. The Options Transfers service was launched in December 2008 to help improve the transfer times for pensions for consumers and the industry.

And the market certainly needed improving. At that time transfers of pensions, largely between pension providers and from pensions into annuities, was taking on average 50 working days.

From launch Options Transfers immediately started to cut down those times. The current and long-standing average transfer time is now just 11 calendardays, including the time required for banks to process monies through BACS.

In developing the Options Transfers service, Origo worked closely with the industry to revamp what was a largely manual process, and re-engineered it through the creation of new frameworks* and technology. These new legal and technological developments were instrumental in swiftly helping to reduce the time taken to transfer.

But the work didn’t stop there. We established user and steering group forums, working with the pensions companies within the large Options Transfers community, to monitor and review their transfer performance, which continues to help drive further performance improvements even today.

And, following its success with pensions, Options Transfers was quickly upgraded to support individual savings account (ISA) and general investment account (GIA) transfers, as well as occupational transfers. It is also the only complete transfers service in the industry, enabling secure and speedy transfers of pensions, GIAs and ISAs.

The service also helps pension schemes and third-party administrators to effect bulk transfers of pension members, where for example a scheme changes administrator or an employer changes scheme.

Furthermore, the users of Options Transfers are part of a trusted community – over 120 financial services companies use the service – focussed on improving their operations and delivering better service to the consumer. The Options Transfers user group and steering group feed into the service to ensure we are delivering what the industry needs including complete readiness ahead of any regulatory changes, the Pensions Freedoms being a significant case in point.

Above all, Origo’s Options Transfers service is focussed on improving outcomes for the industry and consumers and we are proud that since launch, we have transferred over £160bn for the industry, saved the industry over £600 million and importantly, saved consumers over 225 million transfer days.


10 years of Options Transfers service: Top 10 facts

  1. Options has transferred over £160bn in pensions, ISAs and GIAs for the industry
  2. 3.25 million pension transfers have been completed since launch
  3. 40,000 transfers have been processed each month since pensions freedoms
  4. The average transfer through Options takes 11 calendar days
  5. The fastest transfer processing completed by a ceding provider has been less than a minute
  6. 1.2 million transfers by ceding providers took place in less than 4 days
  7. Options has saved consumers 225 million transfer days
  8. Options has saved the industry over £600 million
  9. Close to 120 financial services companies use the service
  10. Origo Options is the longest running complete pension and ISA transfer service.


*Since 2017, the Origo Standards and Common Declarations have been operated by Criterion. The Common Declarations are free to use: