Pension Freedom 

Trade union offers free pension reviews

Trade union offers free pension reviews

Trade union Unite has called members to offer free advice on their pensions.

The union is working with financial advisers Lighthouse Financial, Hilltop Finance and Uniec Prestige, a Tenet appointed representative, to offer members access to financial and pensions advice.

Hilltop Finance started trading as Unite Financial Services and Unite Pension Review in June 2017, according to the FCA's register of regulated firms, although Unite claims it has been offering access to advice for 15 years.

This week a British Steel worker, who lost part of his pension amid the British Steel pension transfer fiasco, claimed on social media he had been cold-called and offered "free pension advice" by Unite.

He was told Unite had not been able to give advice two years ago when he would have needed it but they could now, he claimed.

Unite told FTAdviser it does not cold-call members but contacts those who have indicated they are interested in hearing about the pensions advice it offers when they first join.

"When a member joins Unite they are offered the opportunity to request more information about membership services. If they tick the box in respect of pensions advice they are contacted," a spokesman said.

"We don't do cold-calling so the only members who are contacted by phone are those who have requested information."

Advice to Unite members is provided via workshops, seminars and opted-in advice calls. 

In particular, workshops and seminars are offered where a company scheme is either changing or closing and this would be followed up with one to one advice if required, Unite stated.

For individual pension enquiries the union advises its members to contact the IFAs directly and request a one to one meeting, the first of which is free of charge.

Advice calls are free to members and provide them with the opportunity to have their pension reviewed and to answer any questions they might have about their pensions, including any advice regarding potential mis-selling of pensions, Unite told FTAdviser.

Unite told FTAdviser the IFAs it works with would never recommend a pension transfer where the pension is active and the member is paying contributions, the member is drawing a pension, or it is not financially beneficial to the member to transfer the fund.

The spokesman said across Unite less than one in 20 cases reviewed resulted in the member being advised to transfer.

This was in circumstances where the workplace scheme was closed, the member had a number of small pensions that would benefit from being consolidated, or the member was in poor health and had no dependents.

carmen.reichman@ft.com

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