Defined Benefit 

Regulator reveals £14bn transferred out of pensions

Regulator reveals £14bn transferred out of pensions

The value of pension transfers in a year up to March 2018 reached £14.3bn, corresponding to 72,700 transfers from defined benefit (DB) schemes, according to data from The Pensions Regulator (TPR).

A Freedom of Information request published on the regulator's website, the watchdog warned that the number of individuals cashing in their final salary schemes between 1 April 2017 and 31 March 2018 was even greater, with an estimate of 100,000 transfers.

This is due to the fact that "not all schemes reporting that transfers took place have reported exactly how many transfers they carried out," the regulator stated.

The Pensions Regulator explained while it is a requirement for a scheme to submit a completed scheme return, it is not a requirement to provide the number of transfers, and therefore all supplied figures were indicative only.

These numbers are greater than the values registered in the previous year, when the regulator revealed 67,700 transfers took place, with an estimate of 80,000 individuals transferring out.

According to Paul Gibson, managing director of Granite Financial Planning, "given previous final salary transfer problems it is concerning that reporting figures are not mandatory and a regulatory requirement".

He said: "I am not surprised the figures are higher given how much has been talked about perceived high transfer values over the past year.

"The Financial Conduct Authority has seemed to be more pro-active in this area so hopefully widespread misselling can be avoided.”

Around 11 million people have built up benefits in private sector defined benefit pensions and sky high transfer values are increasingly tempting people to leave so called "gold-plated" final salary schemes.

Since April 2015 and the introduction of pension freedoms, anyone aged 55 plus has been able to access their defined benefit pension by first transferring it to a defined contribution (DC) pension scheme.

According to data from Xafinity, transfer values were at £232,000 at the end of April.

Recent data from the Office for National Statistics showed funds transferred out of pension schemes almost tripled to a record £34.2bn in 2017.

maria.espadinha@ft.com

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