Pension transfers are actually a lot simpler to advise in concept than they are in reality. However, the ultimate outcome of a pension transfer discussion may be that the best advice is not to transfer.
Actually, you should only transfer a pension if it meets your objectives and if it is likely to be the best thing for you to do. The problem is that if you do not use a good adviser, then you could lose your future retirement income in total (there are some fantastic new government adverts about his subject and you would be wise to watch them).
Poor advisers introduce new terms, confuse you, and promise you guarantees or returns that are impossible to deliver. They have learnt to work in packs, or as one part of several different companies that work in “Triage”. But what is ‘triage’ really about when discussing pension transfers?
To those that do not work with pension transfers, introducing the term ‘Triage’ may appear a little odd given that it is usually a reference to allocating scare resources in times of stress (such as in a hospital or on the battlefield).
However, pension transfers and triage are now becoming commonplace as people consider their options for their final salary pension schemes. Regulated pension specialists will charge a fee for advice on pension transfers, whether or not a transfer is recommended. A robust, compliant report now costing several pounds or more is a necessary part of the advice process but increasingly members of UK final salary schemes would like a specialist to talk about their case before committing to a fee.
The debate about how advice on pension transfers is given has come to the fore as a result of the FCA announcement in March 2018.
The key issue, for members considering pension transfers, is-
The new rules and areas for discussion aim to improve the quality of pension transfer advice to help consumers make informed decisions for their individual circumstances.
Pension Transfers and Triage
Triage, as far as pension transfers are concerned, is not advice. As can be seen from this CityWire article, some are interpreting triage differently than others
In essence, it is an initial discussion about the member’s final salary scheme and our view is that it is the time to find out if the pension member really is a candidate for a full advice report. For example-
Does the member know what the current scheme will provide? Is the objective of the client a reasonable one and would a transfer satisfy this?
There are other questions the pension specialist can ask that should help both the adviser and the pension member decide if advice is to be given- even if that advice is to remain in the scheme.
Expats and Triage
It goes without saying that triage should only be done by firms that have the necessary FCA licence and advisers qualified to give such guidance- note, I am not referring to advice. This means that if you are contacted by a non-UK adviser and you want such a service you NEED to speak to the qualified adviser that provides the pension service to the offshore firm and not the offshore firm. If that is not offered- find another adviser.
The views expressed in this article are not to be construed as personal advice. You should contact a qualified and ideally regulated adviser in order to obtain up to date personal advice with regard to your own personal circumstances. If you do not then you are acting under your own authority and deemed “execution only”. The author does not except any liability for people acting without personalised advice, who base a decision on views expressed in this generic article. Where this article is dated then it is based on legislation as of the date. Legislation changes but articles are rarely updated, although sometimes a new article is written; so, please check for later articles or changes in legislation on official government websites, as this article should not be relied on in isolation.
This article was published on 4th August 2018
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