Warning on "improper" pension inducements

Warning on "improper" pension inducements
Monday, 14 December 2009 13:22

The Pensions Regulator has raised a warning to employers who are tempted to apply "improper" pressure to persuade members to move from existing pension schemes.

David Norgrove, the regulator's chairman, was addressing a conference of the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) when he identified a number of tactics used by employers to tempt employees to shift from final salary schemes to defined contribution schemes.

These tactics include

  • offers to pay for pensions advice proving the advice is taken
  • constant phone calls and emails
  • raising the spectre of uncertainty over the future of the final salary scheme
  • pressure to make quick decisions on transferring to take advantage of limited offers

Mr Norgrove conceded that such tactics were legal in the strictest sense. However, he said that they might well contravene the rules as laid down by the Financial Services Authority (FSA).

Mr Norgove said: "Many members are likely to be strongly influenced in their decision to transfer by the immediate prospect of receiving an attractive amount of cash ? or by an offer which contrasts an 'enhanced' transfer value with a pension from an under-funded scheme.

"What is not often not explained or understood is that the term 'enhanced' may be misleading or misunderstood ? as the sum being enhanced may first have been heavily discounted. Or that they are moving from a defined benefit scheme backed by a sponsor to a defined contribution scheme where they themselves bear all the risks."

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