What is a pension transfer?
If you’ve worked multiple jobs over the years, you may have been auto-enrolled into a number of pension plans by your past employers. You might also have a few pension plans that you opened yourself.
Keeping track of all your plans’ policy numbers and knowing exactly how much is in each of them might start to get confusing as the years go by. With a pension transfer, you can combine all your pension plans into a new, single plan.
This can help you see the total amount you have saved for later life much more clearly and it could even result in lower annual charges. You can also factor your combined pension plan total into other sources of retirement savings to give you a clearer overview, such as an Individual Savings Account (ISA) and the state pension.
Why combine pension plans?
Once you’ve combined your pensions into a single plan, you’ll have a clearer picture of how much pension savings you might have to live on in later life — whether you choose to retire fully or simply reduce the amount of hours you work.
Here are some other reasons why people consider combining their pension plans:
- Clearer retirement planning: once you can see your savings in a combined pension pot, it should be easier to monitor if you're on track for retirement
- More value: you could have a better range of investment choices and lower annual charges. You could even get a discount for having a bigger pension pot
- Clearer management: with all of your pension savings in one place, you can cut back on admin and paperwork by focusing on a single plan
- Clearer retirement options: knowing exactly how much you have in pension savings can make it clearer when deciding how to take your money at retirement
Important things you should know
Transferring pensions isn’t for everyone. There are a few things you should think about that can help you decide if it’s the right choice for you:
- Your retirement income: there’s no guarantee that your retirement income will be better after transferring your pension plans into one place. That’s why it’s best to weigh up your options carefully to make an informed choice
- Your benefits and guarantees: your existing pension plan may give you benefits or guarantees that the new plan might not offer
- Your charges and choices: just like benefits and guarantees, your current pension plan’s charges might not be transferable, meaning you might pay more on the new plan. You might also find that the new plan doesn’t offer the same investment choices that you’re currently invested in
- Your current situation: If you’re in poor health it might not always be a good idea to transfer, as the pension plan could be liable for inheritance tax if you die within two years of transferring
Remember, you can speak to a financial adviser if you’re unsure about pension transfers.
How long does it take?
From start to finish, pension transfers can take a matter of weeks. You can speed up the process if you know the provider and policy details of your existing plans.
Typically, Standard Life will ask you for the following information about each plan you’re thinking about transferring:
- Your latest pension statement for each provider
- And / or a recent valuation statement, if you have one
What if I don't have that information?
Not to worry, you can confirm how many pension plans you have, as well as their provider details using the government’s free Pension Tracing Service .
Once you know who your pension plans are with, you can contact them to get the relevant information before starting a pension transfer.
The decision about transferring must be yours. If you're unsure about transferring you should seek financial advice. You can also find out some more information from MoneyHelper .
There may be certain circumstances where you will be required to take financial advice.