Defined Benefit 

Pension transfers drop 11%

Pension transfers drop 11%

Funds transferred out of pension schemes decreased 10.5 per cent in 2018, when compared with the previous year, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

In 2018 the value of funds transferred out amounted to £33bn - £3.9bn less than the £36.9bn recorded in the year before.

The data did not specify the origin of the funds, but it is expected that the majority of these transfers are from DB schemes.

In the last quarter of 2018 £6.3bn were moved from final salary plans to other pension schemes, the lowest value after a record of £10.4bn in the first quarter of the year.

This comes after pension transfers have been under intense scrutiny from the Financial Conduct Authority after it found in its recent work on transfer advice, published in December, that a mere 48.1 per cent of the advice it had looked at was deemed suitable.

The regulator recently requested data from all firms with pension transfer permissions as part of its quest to build a "complete picture" of the market since 2015.

Tom Selby, senior analyst at AJ Bell, said he had expected pension transfer activity to slow down towards the back end of 2018 and through 2019.

He said: "There are a number of factors at play here, but advisers exiting the market as the FCA has tightened its focus has likely contributed.

"Equally, rising insurance costs are also forcing advisers to consider whether advising on DB transfers is worth the risk. This contraction in the supply of DB transfer advice has a knock on impact on the volume of transfers taking place.

"Supply of advice isn’t the only reason to expect the number of members looking to transfer to fall. Transfer volumes will naturally edge lower as the population of members in DB schemes dwindles.

"Over time as DB schemes disappear from the retirement landscape, we are likely to eventually reach a point where DB pensions are practically non-existent in the UK."

maria.espadinha@ft.com