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Widows and Axa put block on property pension transfers

Advisers have slammed Scottish Widows and Axa for not allowing pension customers who are partially invested in commercial property funds with restrictions to transfer any of their pension to another provider.

Scottish Widows, Axa, Aegon and Friends Provident all imposed withdrawal restrictions on their commercial property funds earlier this year and these are still in place.

Most pension providers allow the transfer of the part of the pension portfolio which is not invested in these property funds to another life office but Scottish Widows and Axa will not allow this.

Hargreaves Lansdown head of pensions research Tom McPhail says: “This is so typical of life offices. I do not recall ever seeing this kind of warning on a pension arrangement which is why I am so shocked by the whole thing.”

CBK principal Peter Chadborn says: “We put warnings in about the potential for property fund restrictions but it never dawned on us that it would affect the whole fund.”

Scottish Widows head of pensions market development Ian Naismith says: “If the individual is retiring, then we will happily transfer them but otherwise we do not have the facility to be able to do this.”

An Axa spokesman says: “In some instances, for policies where the customer is invested in property and other funds and wishes to transfer, we will be able to allow the transfer of the non-property funds. We would, however, look at all customer transfers on a case by case basis.”

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