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Pensions: Thinking of transferring your pension?

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Most people switch jobs several times during their working life; however, when you change employers, it is worth thinking about the pension pot that you have accrued. You might wish to consider combining your pensions into one pot. It is easier to keep an eye on fund performance if your pensions are all under one umbrella; moreover, a single pension pot will incur less paperwork and administration, and could also generate lower costs and better overall performance. Sounds like a no-brainer? In theory yes, however, there are some important issues to consider before taking the plunge. 

Most occupational pension schemes and private schemes can be transferred, but there are restrictions and potential pitfalls. It is not usually worth transferring final-salary or public-sector pension schemes; the benefits are too good to lose. You should only transfer if you have actually left a company: if your current employer contributes to your existing occupational pension scheme, you should not switch. Also it is worth noting that the money in your pension can only be transferred from one pension scheme to another (until you have retired), and not every new pension scheme accepts inward transfers. If your pension pot is very small, it may not be worthwhile switching: you will have to pay charges when you transfer, and some providers impose harsh penalties if you leave their scheme. And, if you are relatively close to retirement, you might not have sufficient time to recover the costs incurred by transferring.

According to the Pensions Advisory Service, the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) is set to publish a consultation paper examining the consolidation of small pension pots. Possible approaches could see your pension pot moving with you when you change your employer; alternatively, when you change your job, your pension pot could be left behind and – unless you decide to opt out – the cash would automatically be transferred to a central aggregator fund. The DWP believes the changes would increase the visibility of pensions saving: instead of seeing several small figures, each individual would be able to view one larger, consolidated figure. 

Transferring and aggregating your pension pots might generate significant long-term benefits; however, any decision to do so should be taken for the right reasons. Tread carefully and, above all, take expert advice before making an irreversible decision. Your financial adviser is well-placed to help you with this.

Contacting us

Before taking any decision about your pension or retirement options it is vital that you seek expert advice from an independent financial adviser. Pearson Hinchliffe's qulaified IFAs are specialsits in pensions advice. Contact us today for a free initial consultation using the details provided below.

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

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