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DB pension transfers worth more than houses

Defined benefit transfers are regularly topping 40 times the value of their annual entitlement, making them many members' most valuable asset, according to Drewberry Wealth.

Neil Adams, head of pension planning at the firm, said record transfer values - a result of low bond yields - meant many people's pensions were now worth more than their houses.

"I’ve recently had clients come across my desk with pension transfer values in excess of 40 times their annual entitlement from the scheme," Mr Adams said.

"If you’re in a final salary scheme, in today’s environment it’s definitely worth calculating how much your final salary pension could be worth if you decide to leave.

"I’ve worked with a number of clients who’ve found that their largest asset is now their defined benefit scheme value, which is currently worth significantly more than the house they’re living in."

However, he stressed that defined benefit pension transfers should "never be taken lightly", and urged members to seek financial advice before leaving a final salary pension scheme, no matter how much your pot is worth."

Currently, members with a pot worth less than £30,000 do not need to take financial advice. Only those with a pot worth more than £30,000 must seek advice from a specially-qualified adviser.

But he went on: "Still, where it has proved to be the right option for my clients to leave their final salary schemes in exchange for an attractive transfer value, they now have a whole host of retirement funding options open to them that they wouldn’t have had before."

Since pension freedoms came in two years ago, defined benefit (DB) transfers have exploded in popularity, as people looked to take advantage of the new flexibilities - in particular the inheritance tax advantages of defined contribution (DC) pensions.

Record low gilt yields following the Brexit vote pushed up the value of DB transfers, prompting even more people to transfer to DC schemes.

Yesterday (6 April), Xafinity revealed transfer values had appeared to steady at around £235,000 for a pension worth £10,000 a year at age 65.

That was £25,000 more than the same pension was worth on 1 June 2016, before the UK voted to leave the European Union.

Transfer values have been hovering around that level now since January, after peaking at almost £245,000 in October.

Paul Darlow, head of proposition development at Xafinity, said: "March 2017 was pretty unremarkable from the point of view of transfer values which stayed fairly stable.

“With Article 50 having now been triggered we may see some additional volatility in financial conditions. If so, this period of stability could prove to be relatively short-lived.”

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