Pension transfers pass £60bn mark

Holly Roach reports...

Pension transfers have passed the £60bn mark as more than a third of a million people access their defined benefit (DB) pots, a Freedom of Information (FOI) request has revealed.

The data, supplied to Royal London, showed there have been 390,000 transfers out of DB pension schemes since Freedom and Choice came into force in 2015, with the value of the transfers totalling £60bn.

The provider asked The Pensions Regulator to update previous estimates with the watchdog providing figures disclosing that the number of transfers in 2017/18 and 2018/19 sat at 100,000 and 210,000 respectively.

In 2016/17 there were 80,000 transfers out, according to a previous FOI reply.

The value of transfers was estimated at £12bn in 2016/17, and in 2017/18 the value was confirmed as slightly higher at £14bn. In 2018/19 the value of the transfers out of DB schemes was more than double the year prior, sitting at £34bn.

Royal London director of policy Sir Steve Webb (pictured) said: “These figures show the continuing huge interest in using pension freedoms to access pension rights in a more flexible way.

“Although the volume of transfers has probably passed its peak, large numbers of people are still interested in seeing whether reshaping their pension benefits would be in their interest.”

This follows the news the FCA was ‘disappointed’ and ‘concerned’ at the large number of DB transfers being recommended by firms, despite the regulator’s stance that transfers are likely to be unsuitable for most clients.

Webb added: “It remains the case that staying in a DB scheme will be the right answer for most people, but there may be individual reasons why a different combination of pensions would give a better outcome.”