As we grow older, our financial situation can change, funding can be redirected, and even pension funds are transferred to new administrators/trustees. Pension transfer advice is vital to the long-term prosperity of your pension fund.
Remember, we are talking about funds which will last you well into your later life. Any mistakes made in the early days can have a huge impact on the funds available when you need them most.
Unfortunately, the clamor for pension transfer advice has opened up the door for many scammers and fraudsters. Many will promise the earth; very few will deliver, often putting your pension fund at risk.
So, how can you obtain the best pension transfer advice and protect yourself from fraudsters/scammers?
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There is only one scenario where you are legally obliged to take pension transfer advice, transferring from a defined benefit scheme with a value in excess of £30,000. This is because transferring to a new defined benefit scheme or a defined contribution scheme could significantly reduce your pension entitlement.
Indeed, with a defined contribution scheme, you are switching from defined benefits to a money purchase scenario. Nothing would be guaranteed; you would simply be at the beck and call of the market is looking to acquire an annuity.
This is probably best known as a final salary scheme. These are pension funds, which are very rare today, where your future pension payments are linked to your final salary, as opposed to your contributions/fund value.
As you can imagine, as investment returns have fallen and pension fund costs have increased, these particular pension schemes are now proving extremely expensive to maintain. Very often, the contributions from individual members, together with any investment appreciation, don’t match fund liabilities going forward.
One example of a defined contribution scheme would be a SIPP (self-invested personal pension), which is very popular today. There is no guaranteed income in retirement. A mixture of contributions and long-term investment returns will dictate the final value of your fund on retirement.
There are various options upon retirement, such as taking a 25% tax-free lump sum, taking regular income, or mixing and matching to fit your scenario. There is no obligation to acquire an annuity, welcomed by many because annuity rates have fallen in recent times.
A cash equivalent transfer value is the cash value of your pension fund entitlement. Where you are transferring a defined contribution scheme, this is relatively straightforward, the value of your pension investments.
Where you are transferring a defined benefit scheme, this is more complicated; it is the value of the benefits associated with your membership. You will need the cash equivalent transfer value to begin the transfer process.
It is a little bizarre as to why regulations only cover defined benefit schemes with a value of over £30,000. Very few of the general public have any experience with pension funds, regulations, and what to do for the best.
This can lead many people to open to fraudsters who use very innovative ways to contact people and gain their trust. So, if you are unsure about the pension transfer process or indeed, what is in your best interests for the long term, take advice.
As pension funds are an integral part of many people’s financial affairs, the majority of financial advisers will have a degree of expertise in pension transfer/pension management. Where there are more complex requirements, your financial adviser will likely know of a colleague or trustworthy third party who can assist.
If possible, keeping all of your finances under one umbrella, i.e., one financial adviser, is helpful. This should avoid any confusion and create a long-term relationship with trust.
No. Since January 2019, it has been illegal to cold call an individual about their pension fund arrangements. However, this has not stopped the scammers!
If you receive an unsolicited call regarding your pension assets, you should be very cautious. Take a step back; if they were a legitimate financial operation, why would they break the law? Unfortunately, many of these scammers know how to gather trust and tempt individuals to transfer their funds.
Remember the old adage; if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is too good to be true. This is nowhere more relevant than with investments and unsolicited calls!
If you believe that pension fund advice given by a regulated financial adviser was either misleading or inappropriate for your situation, you could potentially pursue compensation. The Financial Ombudsman Service should be your first port of call. They will look at your complaint, make investigations, and potentially pass your complaint to the Pensions Ombudsman if more relevant to their service.
In the event that your complaint is upheld, the ombudsman will make a ruling, instructing the financial adviser to right any financial wrongs. This means that they will need to provide additional funding to rectify any current financial loss and any impact going forward.
Financial and medical compensation claims can be amongst the most complicated you will come across. There will be occasions where they are fairly straightforward, and you could simply approach the ombudsman yourself. However, sometimes it is a case of knowing what evidence is required, how to present it, and working out the losses incurred.
Therefore, it will be no surprise to learn that more people are now using claims management companies to pursue third parties for pension mis-selling. It is very important that negligent third parties are held to account; otherwise, nothing will change going forward.
While there is only one specific scenario in which you are legally obliged to seek financial advice, it makes sense to take advice for any pension transfer. If you weren’t a mechanic, you wouldn’t attempt an MOT on your vehicle. So, if you have limited or no experience with financial services/pension transfers, why would you look to do it yourself?
It is also very important that all of your financial arrangements are reviewed on a regular basis. Reviewing elements such as pensions, savings, insurance policies, etc. in isolation does not allow for the overall picture to be taken into consideration.
You’d be surprised how often an annual financial review will prompt a change in strategy, adjustments to take into account your changing lifestyle, and your financial needs going forward.
Here at Money Savings Advice, we have partnered with some of the UK’s leading Financial Claims management companies. They have already helped thousands of people claim compensation for a mis-sold pension and they can do the same for you.
Choosing an independent claims management company means they won’t proceed with a claim unless they are sure it is in your best interests. They are also regulated by the FCA, which gives you an additional layer of protection.
If you would like to speak to one of these claim management companies who can help you make a compensation claim, then click on the below and answer the very simple questions.
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