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09 November 2021

Financial advice is for everyone

Even someone who feels financially savvy can benefit from advice surrounding their pension.

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 defined benefits pension 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.

The Government is 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 these Frequently Asked Questions.  

You can use the Lifestyle Calculator to work out how much your chosen lifestyle adds up to and get an idea of the income you might need when you retire.

When to think about getting financial advice for your pension

Reasons for consulting a financial adviser can include getting help with:

  • General financial planning
  • Tax
  • 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.

For example:

  • 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 difference 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.

The Trustee, the pension administrators and your employer are not authorised to offer advice and information provided by them should not be relied on as advice about your individual circumstances.

You are free to choose your own Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). You can find an IFA in your area at MoneyHelper.

Considering the cost of financial advice

Getting financial advice can be expensive. 

Keep in mind that not every IFA 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 that are known to be operating without proper authorisation.

Find out more about staying safe from scams.