Who needs advice anyway?
Your pension is effectively a safeguard for the future. A way to make sure you have money to spend when you stop work.
With that in mind, it’s important you understand what your pension can do for you and how to make the most of it. That’s where a financial adviser might be able to help.
Do I HAVE to get financial advice?
There are a limited number of circumstances where getting financial advice is a legal requirement. For example, if the value of your DB benefits is more than £30,000 and you are looking to transfer to a Defined Contribution/Personal Pension Arrangement, then by law you have to get financial advice before the transfer can be made.
And the Government are currently considering more circumstances where financial or pension advice may be legally required.
In most cases though, whether or not to get financial advice is entirely your choice.
Before that, you may find some of the answers you’re looking for in your Member Guide, or in the wide range of informative content available across the member website.
This includes a number of tools designed help you understand your pension and consider your options, such as:
- The Retirement Budgeting Calculator, to help you work out how much income you might need, to enjoy the lifestyle you hope when you stop work
- A retirement modeller for IWDC members and a pension planner for DB members, showing how much your pension might be worth by the time you retire. These can be found by logging in to your myRPS account
- A range of videos in the video library, covering topics such as planning and saving, tax and your retirement options
When to think about getting financial advice for your pension
Reasons for consulting a financial adviser can include getting help with:
- General financial planning
- Deciding how to take your pension when approaching retirement
- Avoiding pension scams by getting an expert opinion and/or a steer toward reputable services/products
Getting advice for your pension could also be particularly useful if things in your life have changed, or if you’re considering a change of another kind.
- If you are starting a pension
- If you are considering whether to transfer your pension
- If you’ve recently received money, such as inheritance, or a lump sum pension pay-out and are unsure what to do with it
- If your personal situation has changed, for example through divorce
The benefits of getting financial advice for your pension
Getting financial advice usually means having an expert in your corner. For example, someone who can:
- guide you through any difficult decisions relating to your pension and recommend a way forward to suit your needs
- point you towards products and options that will best match your personal circumstances and goals. And in some cases access products you wouldn’t necessarily have found on your own.
- put together a plan and make sure it stays on track over the longer term, even making adjustments with your permission if necessary
- help make sure you’re within the relevant tax allowances and advise on alternatives if you’re reaching them
- look at ways to boost your pension
Finding the right financial adviser for your pension
It’s important to first understand the different between guidance and advice. They may sound similar, but from a financial perspective there is an important difference.
Individuals and organisations offering financial guidance can simply provide you with information about your options. Whereas financial advisers can actually recommend which product they think would suit you best.
Unlike guidance services, financial advisers are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). This means they have to agree to a certain level of standards and you can get additional support through the Financial Ombudsman Service or Financial Services Compensation Scheme if things go wrong.
Liverpool Victoria (LV) has been chosen as the official partner to give RPS members access to financial advice.
LV covers all areas of pension advice, including:
- financial planning
And has a dedicated team, with specific knowledge on the Scheme.
LV can be contacted on 0800 023 4187.
You are still free to choose your own Independent Financial Advisor (IFA). You can find an IFA in your area at unbiased.co.uk
More information about getting help and advice is also available here.
Considering the cost of financial advice
Getting financial advice can be expensive.
Any member who contacts LV will be evaluated for free first, to make sure that only those who truly need advice will progress to the chargeable stage. And even then, LV will offer its services at a discounted rate for RPS members.
If you chose to find your own independent adviser, then keep in mind that not everyone offers a free introductory session and that their charges and areas of expertise may differ. So it’s best to shop around to find the best fit.
Looking out for scams offering financial advice
Scammers sometimes pose as financial advisers, or claim to be offering financial guidance and advice, as a way of getting their hands on your pension.
You should be particularly cautious if anyone contacts you out of the blue, or offers you a free pension review or no-obligation consultation. Especially if they actively encourage you to transfer your pension or ‘unlock your benefits early.’
Before entering a conversation with anyone, you should check their details against the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) register to make sure they are fully regulated and have the FCA’s permission to provide the services they’re claiming to offer.
You can also check the FCA’s warning list to see the names of companies who are known to be operating without proper authorisation.
You can read more about staying safe from scams here