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A Dr Who knows pensions

I am told that Dr Who was regenerated over the weekend. I have to admit that when I was a little girl, I hid behind the sofa when Dr Who was on……I am still little!

I do know that Dr Who is a time traveller who is transported into Victorian time by his infeasibly small (and large!) Police Phone Box. If I was a time traveller, I would transport myself back to a time when I would be lucky enough to be in a good defined benefit scheme. I was an adviser on a really good defined benefit scheme. It was so well funded that the surplus assets over liabilities exceeded the limit, which meant that we had to increase the benefits for members. (Some of you may think that I have got confused with the mythical stories of Games of Thrones but I promise you that surpluses in final salary schemes did exist.)

To know what you can do with your pension, you do need to be a time traveller. Take, for example, Section 32 contracts. Even the most dedicated Dr Who assistant would struggle to find out information to understand how they work. In the wake of pension freedoms, we had many callers complaining that they could not cash in their Section 32 policy. Dan took a call from a customer whose friends had all been able to cash in their pension pots and why was the provider of his policy telling him that it was not possible. Dan explained that whilst he had a Defined Contribution pot, it also had a pension benefit promise that had first call on the pot and, as is the case for many Section 32 policy, the cost of the pension benefit promise was greater than the value of the Defined Contribution pot. As Dan said “Whilst the customer went away unhappy because he could not do what he wanted to do, he also went away knowing that he had more value in his policy than he thought.” I would also add that he accepted what Dan said as we are independent and impartial but would not have accepted the same message if it came from the provider.

We value our independence and impartiality. Independent and impartial guidance can challenge a customer’s pre-conceived ideas of the correct option without the customer thinking that the challenge is due to commercial benefit for the guidance organisation. It is not only important to us but is important that the customer has access to an impartial service and also that the industry can use it to ensure that its customers feel confident in make important decisions on their pensions.

If you’d like to talk to us about the type of pension scheme you have or about your particular pension position please contact us on 0300 123 1047 (Mon - Fri 9-5, excluding bank holidays). 

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