A complaint that Aegon unfairly refused to allow a pension transfer valued under £30,000 without advice first has been quashed by The Pensions Ombudsman.
In a ruling released this week, the complainant said they had attempted to consolidate multiple small pensions pots into an Aegon Flexible Pension Plan, which were all cleared except for their Credit Agricole Legacy Pension Scheme – a defined benefit scheme.
Aegon says a “blanket decision” means it requires all DB transfers to require financial advice to have been undertaken first, regardless of value – and that it was legally allowed to enforce this policy.
This is despite FCA rules only mandating consumers take advice on pots with more than £30,000 in safeguarded benefits.
The complainant says Aegon’s decision contravenes outcome six of the Treating Customers Fairly framework which protects customers from ”unreasonable” barriers.
Aegon also provided incorrect information as to which body the complainant could refer his case to, the claimant alleged.
The case was passed to the ombudsman after the complainant did not accept an adjudicator’s preliminary decision in favour of Aegon.
With no legal obligation, the ombudsman says it cannot direct Aegon to accept the transfer, and companies “are entitled to run their businesses as they see fit.”
Commissioner Anthony Arter says: “It would appear that Aegon, cognisant of the Pensions Scheme Act 2015, has taken a commercial decision to require all members wishing to transfer from DB schemes to take independent financial advice.
“I do not see that Aegon has breached any regulatory guidance or legal requirements by imposing this condition. Therefore, I cannot say that Aegon has acted contrary to the rules of a pensions scheme or that there has been an act of maladministration.”