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How to transfer a workplace pension

There are many reasons why someone might choose to transfer a workplace pension from one provider to another. It could be that an employee has held multiple jobs over the years, and different employers have used a different provider. It could simply be because a different provider has certain benefits they’d like to take advantage of that their current provider doesn’t offer.

Whatever the reason , transferring a workplace pension doesn’t have to be quite as daunting as it may sound. To help make the process as smooth and simple as possible, we’ve put together this guide on how to transfer a workplace pension.

How to transfer a workplace pension

What kind of pension schemes are involved?

Depending on the kind of workplace pension scheme, each will have a slightly different process to make sure that the transfer is done effectively and is also a financially sound move to make. This is because different workplace pensions have different ways that money is added to their pots, how that value is increased, and what is done with the money inside the pot prior to retirement. So any change in provider has to align a pension with that specific scheme.

Defined contribution

Since the government’s automatic enrolment programme began, defined contribution pension schemes have become the most common option on the market, helped through the founding of their own non-profit provider, NEST.

 A defined contribution pension scheme is one that is paid into through employee and employer contributions as normal, alongside government tax relief. However, the money is invested into a range of funds, such as stocks and shares. Depending on the investments made by your pension provider, the pension pot could increase significantly if they perform better than expected. However, they also risk little to no additional growth, if the funds perform poorly.

It’s also important to note that different providers will invest in different funds depending on the individual. Some may prefer high risk investments with the potential for further reward, while some may prefer lower risk that may help provide consistency.

Defined contribution pensions are most commonly transferred to other defined contribution schemes. In which case, you’ll be able to transfer the whole current value of the pot over, minus any fees that your new provider might charge.

Also keep in mind that the new provider will likely offer different investment options than your old scheme, so you’ll have to review the investment options beforehand to help decide if the move is right for you.

Defined benefits

Defined benefit pension schemes work by paying a fixed amount of guaranteed income annually once you’ve retired, which increases over each year you’re a member of the scheme.

These schemes are calculated based on ‘pensionable earnings’, and is contributed to mainly by your employer. The employee can add to the pot if they choose to. What counts as pensionable earnings depends on the employer. For example, overtime might not be included, and the final sum is calculated on contracted hours only.

The main difference with a defined benefits pension is whether it’s funded or unfunded. A funded defined benefits pension will put the necessary funds away ahead of time ready for an employee’s retirement, which guarantees that the money is safe and ready.

An unfunded scheme only starts paying money at the time of retirement. There’s no implicit guarantee that the company has enough income to cover your retirement pay. For this reason, only a funded defined benefits scheme can be transferred to a defined contribution scheme. There’s no such limit on transferring to another defined benefit scheme, however.

Transferring from one defined benefits scheme to either a contribution or alternative benefits scheme is done through a “Cash equivalent transfer value”, or CETV. In a new benefits scheme, they will calculate your protected annual income and “buy” years of service in the new scheme, while to a contributions scheme, the CETV is simply added to the pension pot.

What should I do?

Employers often incentivise switching from defined benefits to defined contribution, as it will lower the pension payments they have to make in future.

Because there’s no guarantee that an employee will be able to simply know whether they are better off in one scheme or another, regardless of incentives offered to switch, it’s a legal requirement that employees be given access to an independent financial advisor – at the cost of the employer - if they are switching from a defined benefit scheme, or if their pension pot exceeds £30,000. 

How can FSB help?

Deciding which is the best pension provider for your business and employees might seem like a lot of variables to consider.

FSB’s Workplace Pension service is here to make sure your business’s pension scheme is comprehensive, effective, and easy to understand. Benefits of this service, which is available in our FSB Business Essentials package, include:

  • Access to an award-winning scheme from a well-known and trusted UK pension provider, Legal and General
  • Full support and 1-2-1 guidance through the whole process.
  • A full range of flexible retirement options

To find out more about this service, visit our FSB Workplace Pension page. If you’d like to take a look at the other benefits included in the Business Essentials package, or to see what else we can offer you, take a look at our package comparison page.

FSB Workplace Pensions from FSB

With expert advice and guidance from a leading provider, it's one of the most popular FSB Member Benefits.

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