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How much are advisers charging for pension transfers?

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Advisers and networks are charging wildly different prices for advising on defined benefit to defined contribution pension transfers, Money Marketing research suggests.

As well as a split between charging on a time cost or percentage basis, some firms appear to be charging as much as two times more than others.

Firms that offer pension transfer outsourcing also report growing interest as volumes increase and the FCA’s new requirements leave less advisers qualified to do the work.

Interest in DB transfers has risen as members become aware of the greater flexibility and favourable death benefits now available to defined contribution pensions.

One network that asked not to be named says the current range for this type of work is between £700 and £1,200, with an hourly rate or minimum charge model becoming increasingly common among its advisers.

A spokesman adds that the size of the pot “does not necessarily mean less work – although the options may be more limited and the time spend reduced as a consequence”.

Sense compliance director John Netting says: “It’s pretty dangerous for networks with appointed representatives up and down the country to have a one-size-fits-all policy. Notionally, most of the people doing DB transfers are on about £200 an hour billing rate – it’s not a simple area and most people holding the relevant permissions tend to be at the upper end of chartered in terms of qualifications.”

Intrinsic would not give an indication of how much its advisers charge. A spokesman says: “Intrinsic appointed representatives do not have a standard fee. Each adviser is able to set a percentage or fixed fee themselves.”

Advice firm Portal Financial charges 5 per cent of the value of transferred funds. A spokesman says this because the work is “high risk” and requires “lots of analysis and G60 qualified advisers”.

In contrast, Fairey Associates managing director Ed Fairey says they “normally” charge clients around 3 per cent.

Wingate Financial Planning financial planning director Alistair Cunningham says his firm uses a time cost model and usually expects the work to cost around £2,000. He adds transfer advice is the only major service the firm does not offer on a fixed fee basis because of the “open-ended nature of the work”.

Towry head of retirement planning Andy James says the advice firm typically charges around £3,000, depending “on the complexity and time taken”.

LEBC undertakes transfers as part of exercises driven by corporate sponsors trying to reduce their DB liabilities, as well as individual cases. Divisional director of longevity Nick Flynn explains the firm uses O&M Pension Solutions to undertake transfer value analysis, which costs £175 per individual but falls for bulk exercises. In addition, clients are charged on a time cost basis.

He says: “If you’re doing hundreds of transfers at once as part of a big project you might get the cost down to £600 a transfer, if they are looking to go into drawdown that would probably double.

“On an individual basis, the bill would be quite a lot more because there’s no economy of scale. It’s probably more like £3,000 or £4,000 on a time cost basis – it’s not a cheap bit of work, because it is not simple.”

Specialist retirement adviser Intelligent Pensions charge clients not immediately vesting their pension £1,000 to generate a report, including running a transfer analysis and issuing a suitability letter. Those at the point of retirement are charged £750. However, clients are not given the certification to allow them to get the transfer done without an adviser.

If the transfer goes ahead, the firm charges 1.1 per cent of the transfer value and place the funds in a product recommended by the firm.

Intelligent Pensions technical director David Trenner adds that there is growing appetite from other advisers to outsource transfer business.

He says: “More and more financial advisers are interested in our service. We’ll advise on the stage inbetween, charge 1 per cent for implementation, and then stand aside for the investment advice offered by the other adviser.”

Pension transfer specialist HDC accepts referrals from authorised firms for pots worth £100,000 or more. An initial suitability report costs £300. Following a transfer the first £150,000 of the fund is charged 2 per cent, the next £350,000 at 1 per cent, the next £500,000 0.5 per cent, and 0.25 per cent on anything above £1m.

HDC managing director Heather Dunne says business has grown “exponentially” in the last few months as clients become aware of the pension reforms, and the FCA introduced tighter requirements on transfers.

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Comments

There are 61 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. 3k min in our firm ,

  2. I’m an ex financial adviser and have various pension coming out in 3 years time. What is the legislation now? Can I do it myself? Can I do it execution only? What’s the cheapest way I can do it, as I already understand the ins and outs pros and cons etc?

  3. I think (as an Adviser) that £9,000 charged for a £1million pension transfer is steep. I appreciate that some cases might be more complex than others, but there is a general process required that say for a fund of £150,000 (£3,000 charged) and a fund of £1million (£9,000 charged) that I wonder if the extra £6,000 can be truly justified… I am prepared to be shouted down… so go ahead please… G

  4. There are no grounds for charging a % of the pot value, there should be an assessment, a report, and a letter saying that the client has understood the advice and has chosen to make the transfer. The cost for that should be the same whether the pot is £100,000 or £300,000, and should be based on the number of hours taken to do the task.

  5. It always amazes me how we can all provide our thoughts on how there can be “no grounds for…” or “no justification for….”. The only correct way is this: Those who give advice to any client for any line of business have the absolute right to charge what they like and in any way they like as long as the client knows the amount and will pay it, end of conversation on the matter. It is not for me or anyone else to judge whether that is right or not. We can all have opinions and should give the opinions of course but it should be us saying what we would do in that situation and not slating others who do the business their own way. Personally I would certainly charge more for a larger pot for one reason only. If I lose any subsequent complaint that is lodged I stand to have to pay 3 times more in compo for the £300K client than I would, the £100k client. If anyone would like to charge the same for larger pots thats up to them but I would not put myself in the situation of having to pay larger compo without having first had the larger fee. If no complaint ever comes in then the client is happy with the outcome and I have been well paid for a job well done, so why would it be an issue? I think that makes good business sense and we are, after all is said and done, business people first and foremost. As ever off for though and just IMHO.

    • They have the right to charge what they like for advice, but this is advice I don’t want but am legally obliged to seek before I can access my money.

  6. Kenneth Hunter 26th June 2015 at 2:28 pm

    Are we not operating in a free market where customers can choose between which firms they want to work with. In other industries fees are charged for services and can differ significantly between companies, customers make the choice who they decide to work with, why are we constantly being scrutinised as a profession. We are not charities and i for one am sick and tired of being expected to operate like one i’m in business to earn money, i do that by giving sound financial advice operating within the regulations laid down by the FCA. When i retire which i hope wont be long i will then do my share of charity

    • Same as the reply to Marty really Kenneth, yes you can charge what you like but this is something I am told I have to get even though I don’t want it. I have done my own research and want to transfer my money but I’m not considered capable of making that decision without getting a £3,000 piece of paper from one of you guys.

      • I am in a similar position Martin, with a similar train of thought. If it wasn’t legislated, and only a choice to get Independent Financial Advice, I’m certain the charges would be far less !!!

  7. Happy with what Marty Y says on the matter… assuming that there is a bigger excess for bigger pots transferred…

  8. I love the term recommended retail price. Something RDR didn’t pick up on.

  9. Kenneth Hunter 26th June 2015 at 2:33 pm

    posted before i had read anyone else s comments refreshing to read yours Marty Y, shame other IFA’s cant put their heads above the parapet and really express their feelings which they don’t seem to have a problem with when attending seminars and chewing the fat over coffee breaks and lunches

  10. I agree with Marty. By giving advice to clients with larger pots we are increasing the regulatory and insurance costs to the business and the obvious greater risk if a client were to complain in the future, which is typically why we would charge a percentage fee rather than a fixed fee. The client knows this at the outset and is free to consider other advisers fee models before deciding.

  11. Kenneth Hunter 26th June 2015 at 2:58 pm

    I empathise with you Martin unfortunately we advisers don’t make the rules we just have to abide by them and to be honest they are there to protect both you and I

    • I’m not being critical of IFA’S, just raising awareness that there is another side to this debate other than that faced by industry advisers. As the article points out there are inheritance and flexibility benefits to transferring out of many DB schemes and this is my compelling reason. I have more than enough income, funds and assets to last my lifetime, I just resent having to throw away £3,000.

  12. Martin, by thinking a fee of £3000 is just for a bit of paper, clearly highlights to you do not understand the process and risk ( for your IFA and you ) behind this type of work and that’s why the Government are insisting you take advice

    • Or, possibly, Martin does understand the risk and is one of the 5% or so who are good enough at numbers and risk, and comfortable in shouldering the risk, and resents paying more than a year’s grocery bills for what might be just a two page letter. And oh I forgot, in some cases the IFA will then hope and/or expect to get a further fee for placing the investments into their choice of funds.
      For a majority – the advice _might_ be necessary. For some of us it is more akin to mafia protection money.
      I know that some IFA services are valuable – I’ve just recently happily paid £3k to a mortgage advisor – but this area needs sorting out.

      • Just going through this process currently, this seems like a legalised scam to me, astonishing, and we wonder why people lack faith in the financial services industry, this should be fixed fee.

        • Donovan Goodman 5th May 2017 at 9:34 pm

          We live in a litigious society. This is what happens when we encourage the proliferation of ambulance chasing and PPI claims. If I was doing this business, I would charge a %. The bigger the case, the bigger the claim. As it happens, I will not get involved in this type of business as I firmly believe that the risks outweigh the benefits.

  13. Martin. no doubt when you claimed for your PPI , your claims firm would have charged you a percentage.

    As with any insurance, the higher the risk , the higher the premium, that is why IFA’s should charge percentages subject to a minimum

    • Mike, I never took out PPI so consequently I never had to claim for it. And your condescending attitude is probably why so many of your profession are so lowly regarded.

      I completely understand what I’m being asked to do, and I know exactly how much work is required as one of your fraternity have given me that information, (off the record of course). I also know why it is beneficial for me to transfer and that I don’t need somebody with a FCA certificate to confirm these benefits.

      • Martin if you wanted to build an extension and called a builder and the builder said ” you cant do that Martin because the extension would not pass planning or be safe in the long term , you may seek another builders opinion but if the answer was the same as the first … you wouldnt go build the extension yourself would you !!!! ”

        Please highlight to me why it is beneficial for you to transfer?
        Also why dont you get a FCA certificate yourself ? ( lack of experience/knowledge ) by the way What is an FCA certificate ?? please enlighten us all

        • Mike why do you keep using these dreadful analogies?

          I want to transfer MY money out of a scheme where my children will receive nothing if I die and has no flexibility with regard to drawdown, into a SIPP wrapper that allows me to pay off my mortgage, bequeath the funds to my daughters, and withdraw on a flexible basis depending on the path my life takes.

          I have been given an impressive transfer value but an awful ‘lump sum + annual pension’ figure. I have spoken to several people in the financial industry who all agree with my assessment of my position and I just wish to transfer MY money without spending £3,000 on a letter confirming my assessment. I would be very happy to sign a disclaimer document if such a thing existed, this is my responsibility and mine alone.

          • Marin, when you contribute to a FS scheme, you are buying a certain amount of income. Technically you dont have a monetary value, hence the word equivalent in the Cash Equivalent Transfer Value.
            You want to bequeath funds to your daughters, have you thought of a Whole of Life plan ?
            You may want to pay your mortgage off , but is withdrawing a chunk out of your pension the most tax efficient way of paying a mortgage off? have you thought of downsizing ??

  14. peter mulholland 26th June 2015 at 10:23 pm

    I sympathize with Martin
    I guess he has been around advisers in the past
    And frankly
    We don’t buy it! The comments that ‘we no better we do this for your own good’ don’t think so
    You run a transfer quote
    Then cut and paste paragraphs from compliance approved reasons why database
    Common guys this is a trade web site
    Not the Sun

  15. The regulator’s decision to restrict CETVs for immediate vesting to those advisers who hold an antiquated pension exam is against the spirit of the legislation and should be investigated by parliament.

  16. A fee based on fund value seems best. Firstly, due to compliance costs and also that they are typically more complex.

  17. Its funny that given all of the legislative changes we have had since 2006, that the article still talks about G60 qualified advisers – a qualification based on Pre A-day! Surely we should be talking about AF3 by now – G60 has been obselete for years.

  18. @peter Mulholland. Hello again 🙂 It is much more complex than you describe. You may have spent time around the wrong advisers! Know your customer, suitability, advantages and disadvantages and full and transparent explanation of all risks and costs are more than just “cut and paste”

    But I stand by what I said on another thread, if a pension pot owner wants to do it themselves they should be entitled to do so. But the need for advice on DB and Safeguarded arrangements is a government requirement so you should address this with them

  19. I think there are two key points. Advisers are businesses in a market economy, they should be able to charge whatever they like. But at the same time consumers should never be obliged to take advice and there should be a clear and simple process for consumers to arrange transactions and take the risk for that transaction without any recourse to an adviser or provider.

  20. Nick Bamford & John Stimpson make the important points. As a rule of thumb DB schemes are going to provide better benefits than the CETV would in a DC scheme. However, the research and analysis to find out whether or not this ‘rule of thumb’ applies to an individuals own circumstances is lengthy and time consuming process. On top of that the added risk of this type of work increases the cost for clients, therefore, clients should not be obligated to pay for this work.

    @Martin Cooke I understand your frustration and agree with you that you shouldn’t have to pay for a service you don’t want. Unfortunately I can’t imagine that you are going to be able to find an adviser willing to take on this type of business risk for a price you feel happy to pay. Good luck, I hope I am wrong.

  21. G60 and AF3 exams are completely out of date and no use for an immediate vesting CETV. Instead advisers should be able to show a suitable level of intelligence by holding a PhD.

  22. We need to bear in mind FCA comments with regard to “contingency charging”. So if you charge £300 for a suitability report which advises the client not to proceed you probably won’t have covered your costs. The report/research etc will likely have taken the same or nearly the same amount of time as it would to recommend the client does transfer – but if the client does transfer you then take a further percentage (of the transfer value) on top? Surely, it is the research and report that takes the time – and is where the risk lies, not facilitating the transaction. Most qualified advisers in this area would be charging circa £200 per hour, so to charge £300 for a report suggests an adviser only spends an hour and a half on the research etc. The FCA guidance states: “If you charge on a contingency basis then this may give rise to a conflict of interest.You should recognise – and appropriately manage –any potential conflicts of interest”. The conflict being you will be paid a lot more to recommend a transfer than to recommend otherwise if you charge a small fee for the report and a larger amount for the transaction.

  23. Martin makes some good points and I feel that some of the responses reveal a certain insecurity among the advisory fraternity. I imagine that profits will be exponential once a critical amount of cases have been processed and a “model” created, but the client cost will remain constant. Perhaps IFA’s are aware of this and the fact that commercial pressure will force the fees downwards and are making hay while the sun shines.
    Martin is/was in a similar position to me as he implied that he was going to take a particular decision regardless of the advice (as he knew and understood the risks) but was required to pay (then) £3k for the box to be ticked. I understand the litigation risk aspect though and of course after PPI I can understand IFA’s not being too keen to rubber stamp a decision without proof of having gone through the hoops.
    My position is this: I need to withdraw 25% of a final salary or lose my house. With the funds secured, I can then spend a small amount to improve and sell the house, for around £50% more than I paid. I will then put back the 25% into the house. I have no choice. I would sign a disclaimer to the effect that I was aware of all of the risks. It therefore seems wrong that I should have to pay for advice that is of no use to me. In a way you could say that I am waiving my right to take any action in the future. Why can’t that option be open?

    if anyone want’s to offer me a sensible rate for a fund transfer of £130k for this purpose, please do let me know! I am currently being quoted £4.5k.

    Martin – if you still drop by, please let us know how you got on. The comments of some of the “professionals” here don’t reflect too well on the industry.

  24. *I of course meant to say in my message above that I would put the withdrawn 25% back into my pension and not my house

  25. I don’t mind paying a reasonable fee but as I already have an FAD and do simply want my DB scheme transferred to it would minimise the research & work any IFA would have to do. If anyone is happy to transfer a £120k pot for a 1% fee please let me know!

  26. I have been quoted £14k for a £400k transfer ,I think this is way too expensive so still looking.

    • That is not far off. I have just been quoted either £16,100 or £15,800 for £500k. Both solutions are outsourced to a PTS, and then the IFA takes over once invested into a SIPP wrapper. I think the point someone made earlier about the FCA limiting the action to a few. They should create a DB transfer qualification, so more can do it, which will drive down the price surely?

  27. I have a £400k pot to transfer and been quoted a £14k fee ,I think that is completely obscene.

  28. Could I go to a fsa and tell them I want to transfer my £300k FS to a drawdown and that after 6 months I will withdraw all the money and stick it under my mattress. They can then charge me £50 to say it’s a silly idea but I will have taken the required advice and can then go ahead and transfer the money (but maybe not withdraw it and stick it under the mattress).

  29. I have been charged 12k for a pension transfer value of£380k ,this seems steep but gives me options at 55

  30. Just beeen quoted £20k for £1.16m transfer. Told IFA where to go.

  31. I have a 900k DB transfer value from my ex employer. I’m struggling to find an IFA willing to give advice on whether to move my pot without charging the minimum £2k fee plus 1% of value.

    At over 39 times value being offered by my ex employer I’m struggling to see why the value and risk of the advice is worth paying £11k for.

    Surely the prospect of fees from managing the portfolio would ensure the IFA is not out of pocket.

  32. I’m in the same situation they have told me 6 percent over 3000 pound
    I don’t think this should be allowed to happen

  33. Being brutally honest and having read many of the comments, the simple fact is that even most advisers do not understand DB schemes, the chances of a “client” really understanding them is so tiny it’s scary, I’ve lost track of the discussions I’ve had with many very good advisers about DB schemes, where when I’ve explained some of the finer points, they’ve gone “oh, I didn’t know that”. That said, due to economic circumstances, DB transfers can be very attractive at the moment for many people, but likewise there are also many people (including many of those who insist they want to transfer) where actually it’s likely NOT to be in their best interests.

    The rules around them need a radical overhaul post Pension freedoms, but what virtually every client out there and many advisers seem to have forgotten is what the purpose of a pension actually is.

    Pension Freedoms, did not change that purpose (other than in some very specific circs), all pension freedoms did, was widen the options available and allow people to take on a lot more risks than they were previously allowed to.

    Whether this will be a prudent measure will not be known for at least 15 -20 years, but very, very few people I’ve spoken to, actually understand the risks they are taking on and the guarantee’s they are giving up.

    We do DB transfer advice and frequently make recommendations to transfer, but we also frequently recommend not transferring and in the vast majority of cases, clients want to ignore that advice not to transfer and do it anyway, that alone tends to suggest that even after we have carefully explained everything, they still don’t really understand what they are doing.

  34. It would seem form the replies form IFAs here that the fees charged more relate to arse covering than a reflection of the work involved. Pension freedom remains a fallacy.

  35. Despite the understandable attraction of transfer values around 40x pension, there are reasons for caution. IFAs point to the complexity of pension schemes and risk of giving up a guarantee, but fail to highlight that the greatest risk to transfer funds is the expenses levied.

    I have been quoted £6k upfront costs plus 1% annual charge, which cannot be avoided as the IFA is obliged to provide post transfer investment advice for my “benefit”. The “investments” to be enforced are equity based at a time of extreme overvaluation and do not match my need for a stable income in retirement.

    There are no controls on fees charged, over time these could easily absorb 30% of my fund, while poor investment performance in risk assets I do not want could easily remove another 30%. Investment managers are quick to take credit on good performance but will walk away when things go wrong.

    SIPP transaction charges and additional investment charges, such as bid/offer spread on unitised funds, may additionally be significant.

    Your transfer can easily become a feeding frenzy for fees and charges, under the guise of fabricated complexity and acting in your interests. I’d happily pay a reasonable flat rate transfer fee and move to cash, but this is not possible it seems.

    • Hi Charlie,
      It is but you need an adviser that has a fee structure that suits your needs and is not putting you in a ready made proposition. We provide a bespoke proposition (why anyone would be forced to go into equities when they don’t want or need to suggest serious flaws in the advice process). The initial fees are also high. We charge fixed fee transfer advice, and on a tiered annual percentage basis for ongoing advice, so typically between 0.5% and 1% ongoing.

  36. Anyone with a large transfer value might want to have a look at Interactive Investor, or iWeb (Halifax), if you want to manage your own pot of savings after transferring out.

    Costs are reasonably clear, and, all in, the platform charges (off the top of my head) are about £300 to set up and populate your SIPP, £200 pa whilst the money is left in, £300pa once you go into drawdown, and £300 at exit (whichever way you exit!). Hold whatever shares/funds/ETFs you like, eg from Vanguard. Costs are a bit more if you want to do a lot of active investing, but … if your IFA is telling you you need to cough up 1% pa or even 0.5% pa for their help, I would suggest you share a copy of the II (or iWeb) fees and charges.

    • I recently switched my own SIPP to Interactive Investor, as well as my ISA and my daughter’s JISA. I pay a single flat rate of £20 per quarter for all three accounts, and in return receive credit of two free trades worth £10 each, so the net cost is zero assuming one is likely to make at least two trades per quarter across the three accounts.

      Further trades cost £10 each plus the stamp duty for purchases, which reduces to £5 if you do more than 10 trades a quarter. Monthly investing costs £1.50 per trade.

      For the SIPP, there is an additional annual charge of £80 + VAT, so £96 p.a. This is a fixed rate, irrespective of the size of the portfolio. This compares favourably with say Trustnet Direct, which charges 0.25% capped at £200, never find the 1% charged by some IFAs.

      As a self-managing investor, the portfolio and charting tools at II are very useful, though I find Trustnet is better for comparing and contrasting equities, trusts and funds, and for tracking portfolio performance, allocations and statistics like Sharpe and Alpha figures.

  37. Are the fees you have to pay upfront or are they taken from the return on your investment
    After receiving the advice, if your invested pot brings in a return your happy with then the fees they charge should be acceptable

  38. Martin Martin 4th May 2017 at 5:32 pm

    Pay your adviser, or keep looking. If he’s a decent adviser, his fees will properly reflect the work that he’s doing for you. If he isn’t, why is he your adviser? It’s all about trust, so don’t ask for anyone’s opinion unless you trust them. It goes both ways and advisers have to be able to trust their clients too.

  39. Am about to try to transfer one of my pension pots having watched as my wife did hers a few years ago. Her pot (£50k) was dealt with at a 4% fee. This time the pot size is £600k – so the 4% fee of last time feels steep, very steep. A fixed fee of £5k fees right ? What say the professionals ?

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