Personal Pension  

Ombudsman sees drop in pension transferral delay complaints

Ombudsman sees drop in pension transferral delay complaints

There has been a reduction in the number of complaints received by the Financial Ombudsman Service about pension transfers delays.

Phil Miller, an ombudsman from the Financial Ombudsman Service, said in its most recent newsletter: “The number of people contacting us about delays peaked over the summer of 2015, and has steadied since then.

“But looking across the year as a whole, delays have made up the biggest proportion of the enquiries we’ve been receiving and the complaints we’ve needed to investigate further.”

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According to Fos, the government’s figures suggest about a quarter of a million people accessed their pensions in the first year of the new pension freedom rules.

During that time Fos dealt with about 1,000 enquiries and about 400 complaints.

Mr Miller said that suggested so far only a fraction of people who have used the freedoms have encountered problems – or at least, not things their pension provider has not put right in a way they were satisfied with.

Fos reported for complaints about pension freedom, 14 per cent were about administration, 13 per cent concerned annuities, and 9.5 per cent were because people could not access their pension pot when they wished to do so. A total of 15 per cent complained about the requirement to get financial advice while 10.5 per cent were unhappy about information given about the pension and 5 per cent moaned about exit fees.

Almost a quarter (24 per cent) were unhappy about delays, 3.5 per cent questioned the quality of the advice they received and 5 per cent slated their provider for failing to offer their preferred option for accessing their pension pot.

Scott Gallacher, director at Leicester-based Rowley Turton, said he was not surprised there has been a drop in the number of pension transfer delay complaints.

Mr Gallacher said: “With the introduction of pension freedoms there was a rush of people wanting to take their benefits and I suspect the pension industry struggled to cope with demand.

“Now that things have settled down, with those wishing to exit their pensions arguably having already done so, I expect the number of pension transfer complaints to continue to fall.”

Earlier this month, Caroline Wayman, the Financial Ombudsman Service’s chief ombudsman, said she was surprised there have not been more pension complaints since the inception of the at-retirement freedoms.

Last month, the latest Fos figures showed the number of complaints the ombudsman had to consider increased in 2015 to 2016, but advisers only accounted for one in 100 cases.

ruth.gillbe@ft.com