Are the alarm bells ringing on your pension?
According to the latest official figures, nearly half of pension pots were accessed without individuals taking any regulated advice beforehand.
The latest data from the Financial Conduct Authority on the retirement income market revealed that only 15% of pots were accessed by people who received Pension Wise guidance.
According to the FCA’s 2018/19 report, 48% of pension plans were accessed without regulated advice or guidance being taken by the holder.
This compared with 37% of plans accessed by plan holders who took regulated advice.
Between 1 April 2018 and 31 March 2019, 645,000 pension pots were accessed to buy an annuity, move into drawdown or take a first cash withdrawal.
The data showed that over 350,000 pension pots were fully withdrawn at the first time of access – 90% of which were worth less than £30,000.
The average value of pots fully withdrawn at first access in 2018/19 was £13,000.
The FCA’s analysis shows that taking advice generally depends on the size of the pension pot.
While 70% of consumers with pot sizes of £100,000 and over sought regulated advice, only 20% of those with less than £10,000 in pension savings did.
The FCA have voiced concerns with the reduction in the number of people seeking advice, with 34% taking no advice whatsoever.
Stephen Lowe, group communications director at Just Group said alarm bells should be sounding.
“Even where pension money is left invested and regular sums taken, the withdrawal rates are far higher than most experts would consider sustainable for a long-term investment such as a pension”, said Mr. Lowe.
“The FCA figures show that four in 10 drawdown customers took more than 8 percent of the fund value a year although for those with funds of less than £50,000 this rises to nearly two-thirds (63 percent).”
“Overall 74 percent of people are taking more than 4 percent of the fund value each year.”
“This contrasts with guidance from organisations such as the Institute of Faculty of Actuaries suggesting 3.5 percent would be more a more suitable drawdown rate for a 65-year-old and 3 percent for a 55-year-old.”
Keith Richards, CEO of professional body the Personal Finance Society (PFS), also noted how concerning these new figures are. Mr. Richards said:
“It is deeply concerning how many people are pulling all their cash from their pension pots without advice or guidance, and the potentially catastrophic poor outcome for thousands of consumers must be acknowledged as a failing of government and regulator to deliver clear guidance for the public.”
“The PFS would like to see the government and the FCA do more to make sure providers are signposting guidance services and advice, and explaining the potential ramifications if you don’t seek assistance.”
If you’d like to speak to someone about your pension before accessing your savings, we can help.
We have a dedicated team of highly trained experts on hand to help you make the most of your pension.
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