FCA confirms pension transfer qualifications overhaul

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The FCA has published its final rules on pension transfers, which takes effect from today, including a climbdown on occupational transfers without safeguards.

In March, the regulator announced a radical tightening of pension transfer rules in light of expected greater demand to access the new pension freedoms.

The FCA had proposed to continue to consider transfers from occupation defined contribution schemes without safeguards in the definition of pension transfers.

But now it says it will “introduce an exception” and while advisers must still have the “appropriate permission” there will be no requirement for a pension transfer specialist for advice on such transfers.

In addition, the FCA says it will work with the Department for Work and Pensions on clarifying the definition of safeguarded benefits and on the process for non-UK residents intending to transfer.

Currently, non-UK residents will need to take advice from both an FCA-regulated adviser and a local overseas adviser.

The regulator also says it will consider whether there is a need for a full review of transfer value analysis as part of a broader view of its handbook pension rules.

Guaranteed annuity rates

The FCA confirms that transferring from a policy with a guaranteed annuity rate will not require a specialist but that providers need to value the GAR when determining whether the transfer breaks the £30,000 threshold for taking advice.

Money Marketing previously revealed provider concerns over the treatment of GARs held by schemes, rather than individuals.

But the regulator would not clarify further, saying “each case will have to be considered by the relevant firm”.

While transfer of GARs will not require a pension transfer specialist, firms advising on policies containing GARs will now need pension transfer permissions.