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Partial transfers – standard for DB schemes

Mary Stewart

A new report from LV=, ‘Balancing flexibility and security – Why partial transfers should be a standard option’, encourages defined benefit (DB) trustees to make partial transfers a standard option for their members due to the mix of income security and flexibility these can offer. Mary Stewart, Head of Corporate Solutions at LV=.

The report stresses the need for greater understanding of partial transfers among trustees, schemes and members. Since the 2015 pension reforms were introduced, there has been a marked increase in DB members requesting a transfer. However, most schemes only offer single transaction transfers which are often not suitable for the majority of members. Partial transfers can offer a less risky solution as they provide a mix of flexibility and guaranteed income, yet less than 15% of schemes currently offer partial transfers to their members.

Partial transfers essentially provide a ‘safety-first’ approach to retirement income planning as they allow members to secure money for the essentials first, before considering discretionary income. Yet, poor availability of partial transfers could mean members wholly transfer out of DB scheme unable to access, or unaware of, the partial transfer option and therefore give up valuable benefits unnecessarily.

To ensure improved visibility and availability of partial transfers so DB members are able to make the best retirement decision for them, LV= recommends:

The Government and industry do more to improve member, trustee and scheme understanding of partial transfers, explaining the risks and benefits.

Trustees work with financial advisers to explore practical solutions for members and make partial transfers a standard option.

The Government and regulator provide guidance and support to schemes so that they can confidently offer this option to members. Mary Stewart, Head of Corporate Solutions at LV=, said: “The Freedom and Choice reforms have radically changed the pensions market and the way in which consumers can access their pension pots. Great opportunities are now available for retirees but the freedoms have also increased the risk of someone running out of money, particularly for DB members who want to transfer out of their scheme.

“We strongly believe there is a role for partial transfers to allow DB scheme members flexibility over their retirement options, while maintaining the certainty and security of a regular income. We know many trustees may be wary of partial transfers, partly because of the complexity of the administration involved, however they can help reduce the risk for both member and trustee. We want the Government and regulator to support the take up of partial transfers among schemes and help deliver better outcomes for consumers in retirement.”

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