An introduction to abridged advice, for defined benefit pension transfers

It’s estimated that about one-in-four employees in the UK have access to a defined benefit, or final salary pension Footnote [1]. That’s around seven million people Footnote [2]. This population has reduced in size since the turn of the century, as employers have increasingly provided the alternative defined contribution, or money purchase, style of workplace pension. But for the seven million who continue to hold an open or deferred defined benefit pension, they are typically of significant value.

The significant value of defined benefit pensions

Defined benefit pensions provide a near-guaranteed income in retirement, and often this income increases in line with inflation.  They also often provide a guaranteed pension for dependants upon the pension holder’s death. These can be of significant value and therefore all defined benefit pensions should be handled with care and typically, transfers are not in the best interests of most clients.

The growth of defined benefits pension transfers

Over recent years, the UK has seen an increase in people transferring their pension savings away from a defined benefit pension. Despite the significant value referred to above, there are justifiable reasons for transferring. Alternative pension arrangements can provide more flexibility in retirement; they can provide an enhanced income if you are in ill-health; or they can provide greater options when it comes to inheritance planning.

These can be complex issues to consider. And given the significant value of many defined benefit pensions, it is strongly advised that you seek regulated financial advice from a pension transfer specialist before progressing with a transfer. Indeed, if you are looking to transfer from a scheme valued at more that £30,000, you must seek regulated financial advice.

Regulated advice in this area is a specialist skill.  This, combined with the often-significant amounts of money involved, means that advice can come at a cost. Its value and peace of mind is clear, but some have been put off due to its higher associated costs. This has meant many have chosen not to proceed with advice, which means they haven’t been able to instigate the transfer.

The abridged advice service

Positively, the regulator has responded to this issue, and has endorsed a transfer service called “abridged advice”. This new service lies between the provision of introductory information and the provision of full advice, with its associated costs.  Abridged advice can be seen as a ‘stepping-stone’ towards the provision of full advice, for those who are actively considering a transfer.

What does abridged advice entail?

To “abridge” means to “shorten”. And the abridged advice service shortens what could otherwise be a long, and deep-rooted, full advice review and recommendation. Abridged advice will typically include the first steps of the full advice process only. This would include a fact-find, to understand your current financial situation, and a risk assessment, to understand your appetite and capacity for financial risk.

How does it differ from full advice?

Abridged advice stops short of making a recommendation for the next steps towards a full transfer. Instead, abridged advice is permitted to reach one of two conclusions. It can:

  • Provide you with a personal recommendation not to transfer or convert your pension, if the adviser judges such a transfer not to be in your interests
  • Tell you that it is unclear whether you would benefit from a pension transfer. If you still want to proceed with a transfer, the traditional full advice process must then be completed.

Given the shortened nature of the process, abridged advice will carry a reduced cost compared to that associated with full advice. But it should open more holders of defined benefit pensions to the fact that there is merit in considering this further.

Abridged advice is an optional service for regulated advisers to provide. It is not a mandatory service. But if your adviser does not provide this service, and you would like to consider it as an option, your adviser could direct you towards one who does provide this service.

When faced with increasing options for our pension savings, it is positive we are also being presented with increasing sources to help.

Aviva Financial Advice

Aviva Financial Advice offer a range of services and solutions to meet all your financial planning needs and can provide access to advice for a defined benefit pension transfer via Succession Wealth Management, an Aviva group company.

Visit the defined benefit advice page

 Call 0800 158 2642*

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*For our joint protection, telephone calls may be recorded and/or monitored. Calls to 0800 numbers from UK landlines and mobiles are free. 

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Aviva Administration Limited is registered in England No. 03424940. Aviva, Wellington Row, York, Y090 lWR. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm Reference No. 185746. 
Succession Wealth Management Limited is registered in England No. 07882611. The Apex. Brest Road Derriford Business Park, Derriford, Plymouth, PL6 SFL. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm Reference No. 588378. 
Aviva Administration Limited and Succession Financial Management Limited are subsidiaries of Aviva Life Holdings UK Limited.