Defined Benefit  

DB transfer demand to climb further

DB transfer demand to climb further

Advisers expect demand for defined benefit transfers to keep rising in the next 12 months, according to research by Old Mutual International.

The survey of 210 financial advisers from across the UK, Europe, Middle East and Asia showed 42 per cent of them have seen a rise in demand for DB pension transfers in the last 12 months, and 35 per cent expect demand to continue to increase in the next 12 months.

UK advisers have experienced the biggest growth in demand, with 83 per cent saying they had seen an increase in the past 12 months while 54 per cent said they had seen a "significant increase" in demand.

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Meanwhile 71 per cent of UK advisers are expecting demand to increase even further in the next 12 months.

Advisers were also asked to predict the amount by which this demand will increase in the next 12 months; advisers across all regions expect this demand to increase by an average of a third (33 per cent).

David Denton, head of international technical sales at Old Mutual Wealth, said: “UK-based advisers have previously been fairly cautious when it came to defined benefit transfers, as decisions were seen as high risk and irreversible.

"With 71 per cent of UK advisers saying they expect demand to increase, we may be seeing the tide turning, with more advisers prepared to take on such cases. It is important advisers continue to assess each case on its own merits as defined benefit transfers will not be suitable for all clients.

“Following the election in the UK, with the Conservatives now operating a minority government, pension issues are likely to have slipped down the agenda."

But he added that the area of DB pension funding and transfer suitability "remains a crucial issue" and it was important this remained on track.

Figures from The Pensions Regulator found that up to 80,000 defined benefit pension transfers were made in the year ending 31 March.

67 per cent of advisers said the increase in demand was fuelled by fear the DB scheme will not be able to meet its long term liabilities and 66 per cent believed the improved transfer value/critical yield is a factor.

The aggregate deficit of the 5,794 schemes in the PPF 7800 Index rose to £245.6bn at the end of April 2017, while the funding ratio deteriorated from 87.0 per cent at end March 2017 to 86.0 per cent.

According to Xafinity's most recent figures, average transfer values now stand at around £241,000 for a pension worth £10,000 a year at age 65.

That's £30,000 more than the same pension was worth on 1 June 2016, before the UK voted to leave the European Union.

Transfer values have been hovering around that level now since January, after peaking at almost £245,000 in October.

David Penney, director of Penney Ruddy & Winter, said: "Any adviser recommending a transfer out over fears 'the scheme may not meet its long term liabilities' would need to be very careful.

"How do they know which companies will become insolvent? Are they considering the PPF? How do they assess the strength of the sponsoring employer’s covenant?”