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When should savers question their pension provider?

Retirement finance can be confusing, which can put some people off questioning how their pension provider is managing their pot. Indeed, recent research from My Pension Expert found that almost two fifths (39%) felt nervous questioning financial experts about their pension due to their perceived lack of knowledge.  

However, keeping quiet about pension concerns could leave Britons suffering the consequences and unsatisfactory financial outcomes when they reach retirement. My Pension Expert has identified five key areas that savers might question if they are unsure about how their provider is managing their money.  

Exploring default funds

When adults first start saving into a pension, their provider usually gives them a range of investment options to choose from to help their pot grow. If a saver has no preference, the provider chooses on their behalf, placing the individual’s pension into a default fund.  

Default funds usually target riskier investments for younger contributors and safer investments, such as bonds, for older contributors. Unfortunately, this generalised approach to pension investments may not suit an individual’s specific financial goals or requirements. 

For those concerned about default funds, it is advisable to get in touch with the appropriate pension provider to discuss all of the investment options available. Otherwise, their money may not be working as hard as they may have thought.  

Are savers being charged too much?  

Provider fees can take a hefty chunk out of an individual’s final pension sum; even charges that seem minuscule on paper can make a big difference later down the line. As such, it is important that savers understand exactly how much they are being charged. 

That’s why it is vital for individuals to contact their pension provider as soon as possible. This can help adults to factor these costs into their long-term financial plans and, more importantly, re-evaluate their provider options if they feel that the charges are too expensive.  

Does the provider offer enough flexibility?  

Since the introduction of pension freedoms in 2015, savers have enjoyed greater flexibility and autonomy over how they manage their retirement finances. However, some providers do not offer savers as much flexibility as they would have hoped. For example, whilst flexible drawdowns have become more common throughout the previous six years, some providers still do not offer this option.  

So, it is vital that Britons question their providers about flexible access to their pension to avoid frustration and disappointment. If necessary, they can then consider switching providers.

The mismarketing problem

In some unfortunate cases, savers may be concerned that their pension provider has misinformed them regarding how their pension will be managed, or indeed the flexibility offered by their provider. In this case, the saver is well within their rights to question their provider and launch a complaint.  

If savers are not satisfied with the way in which their enquiry has been dealt with, they can escalate the matter to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS). The FOS will review each complaint on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the saver is entitled to any compensation from the provider in question.  

Ensuring pension protection

Ensuring one’s financial security is of the utmost importance. As such, it is advisable that savers check whether their pension is sufficiently protected should their pension provider go out of business. Whilst this can often be done by reviewing the terms and conditions of the provider agreement, it is sometimes helpful to get in touch directly if there are particular concerns about what will happen to a pension pot should the provider cease to operate.  

Savers should also remember that if their provider goes bust whilst owing them money, they can contact the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), who will be able to assist matters further.  

The world of pension savings can be intimidating. However, Britons should remember that they are well within their rights to question their pension providers if they have any concerns about how their money is managed. Further, they can contact an independent financial adviser to discuss matters in more detail or if they would like to learn more about how they can enhance their retirement strategy by potentially switching providers.

Whatever they decide, savers must never be afraid to raise provider concerns – doing so could result in a better retirement outcome!