One of the things many people think about as they start to prepare for retirement is whether they should bring separate pensions together into a single pot. After all, if you’ve built up a collection of pensions over the years, it can be difficult to keep track of them. And there’s a chance your money could end up in expensive, poorly performing funds as a result.
So it can certainly seem tempting to consider transferring your pensions into one easy-to-manage plan. But is it really a good idea?
5 reasons to consider consolidating your pensions
1. More convenience
It’s much easier to manage one pension than half a dozen. Rather than have to check values with a number of pension providers and schemes, you only have to deal with one. According to our research, many Brits would rather do the hoovering than review their finances – so anything you can do to make it less of a chore is a bonus.
2. Greater control
Bringing your pensions under one roof can also give you greater control. For example, perhaps one of your old pensions has limited investment choices. Transferring to a single pension could let you cast off these shackles and take greater control. That doesn’t mean you have to pick your own investments if you don’t want to. Many modern pensions also offer ready-made funds matched to your needs, so you don’t have to choose from thousands of funds.
As with most investments, the value of pensions can go down as well as up, so you can get back less than has been paid in.
3. One big pot
Pensions aren’t something many of us get too excited about (well, except for us). But they can become a lot more interesting when you’ve got one big pot of money instead of lots of little ones. Once your pension pot is as big as (or bigger than) your annual salary, for example, it could suddenly seem worth paying a lot more attention.
4. Potentially lower costs
Older pensions sometimes have higher charges, so transferring to a modern one could reduce the cost of administration and fund management. And even a seemingly small reduction in the charges you pay could increase your eventual pension pot by a significant amount in the long term. With some pension providers, you may pay less in charges as your pension grows (eg once you have a certain amount in your pot, say £50,000, you might benefit from lower charges).
5. Easier to track and switch
It can be easier to track and switch your investments if they’re in one place. Modern pensions allow you to look online to see where your pension fund is invested and how it’s performing. You can follow your progress and use online tools to see if you’re on the right track for a comfortable retirement.
Don’t dive in without looking first
As we’ve seen above, there can be several advantages to consolidating your pensions, depending on your circumstances. However, it’s important to be aware that transferring pensions isn’t right for everyone, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be better off by doing so. Before transferring, it’s important to check your current pension/s to make sure you won’t miss out on any valuable benefits or guarantees as a result – and to check you won’t incur any excessive exit fees.. We recommend that you speak to a financial adviser if you're at all unsure about what to do with your pension. An adviser can assess your situation and tell you if transferring your pensions is right for you. Please bear in mind that a financial adviser will charge to give advice.
You should also be aware that there’s no guarantee that charges will be lower or investment performance better if you transfer. You could also miss out on market growth while the transfer takes place. And, if you change your mind, your pension provider may not reinstate your previous benefits. You ought to check whether benefits such as your tax-free cash entitlement are comparable with your current pension, too.
This article is not intended to give advice or a personal recommendation. Transferring your pension or pensions can be a complex decision. If you're unsure whether it's right for you, you should seek financial advice. You can find a financial adviser in your area at www.unbiased.co.uk.