Sipps benefit as pension transfers up 30%

Sipps benefit as pension transfers up 30%

Pension transfers into self-invested personal pensions (Sipp) have risen 30 per cent year on year, new figures from Origo have shown.

Data recorded by Origo's provider-backed Options Transfers service showed Sipps dominated the market in 2017, accounting for 51 per cent of all transfers in through the service.

According to the service, which automates transfers for more than 100 brands, there was a 30 per cent increase in transfer volumes and a 39 per cent increase in the value of the transactions into Sipps when compared with 2016 figures.

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Since 2014, when the government's pension freedom reforms were first announced, volumes of transfers into Sipps have almost doubled (up 98 per cent) and values have more than doubled (121 per cent), Origo reported. 

Overall, almost £31bn of pensions money was moved by Options Transfers in 2017, with the service carrying out more than half a million transfers in the year.

The not-for-profit fintech has been handling the industry's automated pension transfers since 2008 and has transferred in excess of £130bn of pensions money in that time.

Overall, it said transfer volumes and value through the service had risen dramatically in the years since the pension freedoms were announced, with average payments in a pension-to-pension transfer now amounting to £57,000.

Transfer values through Options Transfers since pension freedom:

Jan – Dec 2014


Jan – Dec 2015


Jan – Dec 2016


Jan – Dec 2017


Origo reported the increase in transfer value was in part due to the growing number of transfers to Sipp providers, which tended to be higher value tickets.

Anthony Rafferty, managing director of Origo, said: "As more and more people have sought to move their pension money where it can benefit from the greater flexibility offered under the new rules, so the volumes have risen.

"Transfers are likely to continue as more people reach the age at which they will want to consider transferring their pension to access the freedoms. Our data shows that the average age for people transferring their pension is 53."

Mr Rafferty said he expected transfer volumes to continue to grow in the year ahead. 

"As more innovative and flexible products are produced in order to meet customer demand, we expect to see more transfers taking place, both in terms of volumes and value of transfers and, in particular, a rise in re-registration of assets through the Options Transfers service," he said.

Head of communications at Hargreaves Lansdown, Danny Cox, said the figures were to be expected.

He said people were recognising the added value in products such as Sipps, including better functionality and investment choice.

Mr Cox said: "Sipps, particularly platform ones are now the pension of choice. People become members of their auto enrolment scheme but beyond that Sipps are the first choice."

There was also the added high transfer values affecting defined benefit (DB) transfers, he added.

"We are seeing a development with DB pensions, a new movement towards defined contribution and towards Sipps. It's all about the rise of Sipps on platforms," he said.