Defined Benefit  

Advisers urged to help clients with GMP payments

Advisers urged to help clients with GMP payments

Advisers have been urged to proactively check whether their clients could be entitled to a top up payment on their DB transfer on the back of a recent court ruling.

David Brooks, technical director at Broadstone, said advisers played a significant role in helping their clients get these top-ups as there was a huge amount of work required to correctly identify which members are affected.

He said: “If an adviser has a client and they know they’ve made a transfer from a contracted-out defined benefit pension scheme then I would expect them to proactively contact the scheme as there is a fair chance there would be some additional money. 

“The scheme may struggle to work it out, and it may take time to do so. 

“However, in the long run it may well be assisting the scheme in the cost of tracing members who transferred out many, many years ago.”

This comes after the High Court ruled last week (November 20) that trustees committed a breach of duty if they did not equalise the member’s guaranteed minimum pension benefits at the time of calculating the cash equivalent transfer value.

Therefore, trustees of DB schemes will have to revisit transfers made in the past 30 years for individuals with contracted-out benefits, and provide a top-up if necessary.

Ricky Chan, director and chartered financial planner at IFS Wealth and Pensions, said while clients may not necessarily need advice to get this top-up, advisers can help clients check if their CETV (of the transferred out pension) has received an equalised GMP already.

Mr Chan said: “It appears that the scheme trustees are not legally required to proactively contact affected clients (though many may choose to do so to limit potential liability in future), and many clients won’t have the technical knowledge to understand if they were affected. 

“Hence, I think the responsibility may fall upon advisers’ shoulders. 

“Of course, a problem arises where clients have disengaged with their adviser or the client has passed away.”

Mr Brooks agreed that adviser support would be needed as calculating the sums was likely to be complex.

He added: “There could be the option to have the money paid directly to the member. Advisers may feel a duty of care to that person to help. 

“It is feared that claims management companies may try and take over cases for members, which may not be in the client's best interest.”

Meanwhile, Andrew Pennie, marketing director and head of pathways at Intelligent Pensions, raised concerns about how much data the trustees hold.

Mr Pennie said: “Some concerns exist about whether schemes will have robust data of members who transferred away and advisers and their clients may need to take proactive action to ensure they don’t miss out.

“It is difficult to see how clients could be forced to take advice on these top-up payments but with some potential payments likely to breach the current £30,000 advice threshold, perhaps the current rules will prevail.”