Personal pensions are a useful and tax efficient way to save for retirement. But when problems arise with the arrangements, the effects on consumers - and their retirement planning - can be significant and long-lasting.
Types of complaints we see
We hear from people who say that they’ve:
- been recommended an unsuitable pension arrangement
- been recommended a pension arrangement that they weren’t eligible to start
- been unsuitably advised to “contract out” of the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS) through a personal pension
- been unsuitably advised to start an income-drawdown arrangement rather than buy an annuity
- been advised to go into the wrong type of investment
- lost out by the length of time it took to start income or annuity payments - or those payments have been made on the wrong basis
- been given the wrong or incomplete information about a pension and/or the resulting income
- lost out through other types of administration errors
We can consider most complaints about personal pension arrangements. But where we can’t investigate a complaint, we’ll tell you about any other organisation that might be able to help.
What we look at
For complaints about advice to take out a personal pension arrangement, we’ll look at what advice you were given, and whether it was suitable for you. We’ll take into account all the relevant circumstances, including:
- the suitability of the pension arrangement recommended for you, given your personal circumstances and financial objectives
- the suitability of the underlying investments in the pension arrangement, given your attitude to investment risk – and capacity to take that risk
For complaints about the administration of a personal pension arrangement, we’ll consider what happened, what should have happened, and whether you’ve lost out because of it.
How to complain
We only look at complaints that a financial business has had a chance to look at first. This means that, even if you bring your complaint straight to us, we still need to give the business an opportunity to respond to the complaint and put things right.
If you’ve complained and a business hasn’t responded within the time limits or you disagree with their final response, then we can start to look into it.
Putting things right
If we uphold your complaint, we’ll tell the financial business what it needs to do to put things right.
If we decide you’ve been in the wrong type of pension arrangement, we’ll look at the position you should have been in, but for the wrong advice – and if you’ve suffered a financial loss, we might tell the business to make up the difference in your existing pension plan. If that’s not possible, we might tell the business to make a payment to you directly.
Similarly, if we think the investments in the pension are unsuitable, we might tell the business to make up the pension to the value it would have been with the right sort of investments.
If we don’t know the exact investment in which you would otherwise have been, we look into what we think would have been likely to be achieved. How we decide this will depend on the individual circumstances of your complaint.
If there have been administration errors, we’ll look at the circumstances and the impact they’ve had on you. For example, if your pension payments have been delayed as a result of the business’ error, we might tell it to pay you the missed payments, plus interest up to the date of payment. If documents have been sent to a wrong address, or originals have been mislaid, we might make an award for the inconvenience this has caused you, or to cover the cost of replacing the originals.
Detailed advice for businesses
Businesses can find more detailed information about how we handle complaints about personal pensions.