Clarification from your scheme
This page explains when to ask questions about your pension to make sure that your provider has the right information and that you understand what they are telling you.
Your pension scheme provider will try to provide you the information you need to understand your pension in a simple way. But this is not always easy. Pensions can be complex, so don’t make assumptions if you are uncertain about something: ask for a written explanation.
Pension providers need to hold a lot of information to run your pension scheme and sometimes rely on other organisations, like your employer for example, for that information. Errors may therefore occur.
There may be times when you are sent a lot of information at once. There are reasons for this, and a lot of what you get sent is required by law. It’s your pension, so you need to read what you’ve been sent, but we can help you work out what it means and why the provider has sent it to you.
Always read the small print and remember - there is no such thing as a stupid question.
If you’re planning your finances around your pension pot, don’t assume that information you were given for another purpose, for example when you joined the scheme or in your annual statement, is all that you need to make your plans.
This is particularly true when it comes to things you were told many years ago; for example the scheme guide you were given when you joined, or any investment projections you have been given.
Make sure you tell your pension scheme or pension provider what you are planning to do so you can get up-to-date information from them in writing that is relevant to your decision. For example, if you left a company pension plan some time ago and you want to draw on the pension early, you’ll need to get an early retirement quote for the date you have in mind. You should also update them with any changes to your contact details.
Making changes to your pension
When you want to make changes to your pension, it is important to make sure that your provider is clear what you want to do and that they will be able to do what you ask within a reasonable time.
For example, if you want to change your investments, you will probably need to be clear about the name of the investment fund you want to use – your provider will be able to give you a list of the funds you can put your money in with them. You’ll need to be clear about whether you want to move money that is already invested in your pot into the new fund, or just your future payments into the pot.
Or, if you're merging a number of different pots into one, you should tell your pension companies of any deadlines they need to meet.
Always make sure that you follow up with the pension provider to make sure that they are carrying out your instructions and get them to confirm when they have completed the task. Your financial adviser can help you with all of this, if you are using one.
Information your provider sends you
There will be occasions when your pension scheme or provider will send you information about your pension: this is an opportunity for you to point out any mistakes. For example, an annual benefit statement will usually set out personal information about you, such as your national insurance number or date of birth. A mistake with that information can have big consequences for your pension.
A defined contribution scheme or personal pension will include details of your monthly payments on your annual statement. Look for any missing payments into your pot, or changes to the amount that you weren’t expecting.
Most work place pension schemes will show how much you are paying into the scheme on your pay or wage slip. If you think any of the details are wrong, contact the scheme administrator as soon as you spot them.
If you receive information which is misleading or wrong, your scheme or provider normally only has to pay you what the scheme rules or policy document say you should be paid. If you could have spotted any simple mistakes yourself – for example, your salary is wrong, or your pension value has doubled – your chances of getting compensation could be much smaller.
Where can I find out more?
If you need more information, please contact us. A pension specialist from our team will be happy to help with whatever pensions-related question you have. Our help is always free.