Posted November 20th, 2012
…..and that figure is unnervingly low. There are nearly twice as many women over 50 without a pension when compared with men over 50.
It seems clear then, that many women are not even asking the question upon agreeing a divorce settlement. It is more important now than ever before that the question of sufficiency in retirement is tabled during in settlement talks. It is just as relevant as child care and the split of matrimonial assets.
It’s pretty straight forward. If you have sacrificed a career to raise children, or even settled in a job just to help make ends meet within the marriage, there is a fair question of income equalisation after retirement that needs to be asked and answered.
I am an IFA with expertise in the field of Pensions on Divorce. If you are going through a divorce and need advice, or if the issue has never been raised for you and you feel that this is something that you would like to talk about then please get in touch:
Image credit: flickr.com/tax credits
Posted March 4th, 2011
“I am about to receive a pension sharing order and need advice about investment”
This is a very popular question and the first thing I always do is to double check the information provided on the pension sharing options with the existing pension scheme. The reason I double check is often the information provided to the spouse is appalling and it is often incorrect. I see misinformation provided on a daily basis!
Internal transfer or external transfer?
Sometimes the pension scheme will offer an internal transfer of benefits and you can remain in the scheme. Often the benefits on offer to you are good and worth staying in the scheme for. You should be looking for true shadow membership.
But if you have to exit the scheme (and this is very common) it is necessary to check what schemes are available for the pension credit to go into. Questions to consider are:
• Do you have any personal pensions already?
• Do you have a works scheme? And can this take the transfer?
• If not, what is on offer from the market.
Advice on the most suitable pension to transfer your pension credit should be taken. Ensure your adviser is suitably qualified. The Financial Services Authority insists on a certain level of qualification to undertake this work.
On an external transfer the investment of the pension will be important because you will be taking on two new risks – how it performs between now and your retirement and how much income you will eventually draw out at retirement.
If you are a long time from retirement you could consider investing in growth assets (equities/property) which tend to be more risky or if it is a short time to retirement more defensive assets (cash / gilts) to protect your capital value. Setting a goal in terms of retirement income is also advisable.
When working with my clients I undertake a thorough review of their attitude to risk and tolerance to risk, their options in terms of pension sharing and from this provide advice on the most suitable pension arrangement and investment strategy to meet their goals.
If you would welcome some assistance on your pension sharing order, your options and how to get it implemented, please feel free to contact me on 0800 092 1229 or email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted December 10th, 2010
Do you know what the default option is when considering pension sharing?
In my previous blog I detailed the difference between an internal transfer and an external transfer. The default option is the underlying option that the pension scheme will implement should the pension credit member not decide how to implement the pension sharing order.
Sometimes, this can be an internal transfer or more often, it is an external transfer to a pension arrangement of the pension scheme / trustees choosing.
So, to avoid having your pension sharing order implemented by someone else or receiving a poor pension by default it is important to check your options first and let the trustees/pension scheme know what you want. It really is a case of taking the bull by the horns!
I keep a check on which pension scheme offers what. If you would like to know more about default options and pension sharing, please contact me on 0800 092 1220 or send me an email – email@example.com
Posted December 3rd, 2010
Do you know the difference between an internal transfer and an external transfer in relation to pension sharing?
It is important that you do because the consequences of choosing the wrong one can be expensive.
Internal transfer – this is where the pension scheme deals with the pension share by way of an internal transfer of benefits between one party and the other (no benefits transfer away from the original pension scheme).
A pension credit is created and this will either be dealt with by offering shadow membership (i.e. matched benefits with the existing scheme – final salary for example) or alternative benefits will be offered. Sometimes these can be significantly less valuable than exact shadow membership and so it is worth checking first. Sometimes you have a choice other times you don’t.
The other route is an external transfer – this is where the pension scheme involved deals with pension sharing by way of an external transfer. i.e. they insist that the pension credit be transferred out to a new arrangement of the pension credit holder’s choosing. Therefore, these benefits are automatically different to the existing (final salary) scheme but which scheme should you transfer to?
So it pays to check what is on offer when pension sharing before entering negotiations. If you know that shadow membership is available this can be very valuable. But what if you have to transfer out would you know what to do?
I keep a check on which pension scheme offers what. If you would like to know more about internal and external transfers when pension sharing, please contact me on 0800 092 1220 or send me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted October 10th, 2010
I am often asked what the differences are between defined benefit (or final salary) schemes and defined contribution (or money purchase) schemes and why those differences are important in the context of pension sharing and divorce.
Defined benefit / Final salary
As the name suggests the final pension received in retirement is defined in advance, based on an accrual basis (for example, 1/60th or 1/80th), the length of pensionable service and the level of pensionable salary at retirement.
So for someone with 40 years service on a final pensionable salary of £40,000 in an 80ths scheme the pension payable in retirement will be £20,000 per annum.
This pension will increase each year in line with the escalation provided by the scheme (this can vary) and the employer / pension scheme carries the investment and inflation risks.
The benefits provided on pension sharing vary between schemes and these should be reviewed carefully before proceeding as often the risks of providing the benefits change hands!
On an internal pension transfer, sometimes the benefits available to the pension credit member are defined benefits, which is the case with the Public Sector Pension Schemes. These defined benefits are often very valuable to the pension credit member and it would be unusual not to advise that these should be taken.
Alternatively, the pension transfer may be placed in a money purchase arrangement often known as the default option. Here, the risks pass to the pension credit member (see below).
On an external transfer, there will be no defined benefits available (unless an annuity is being purchased) and the pension share will be placed in an individual pension arrangement. Again the risks are passed on.
Defined Contribution / Money purchase
In a defined contribution / money purchase arrangement the amount being paid into the pension scheme is defined at say 3% or 5% of salary but the final benefits are not fixed.
Instead, the final pension available is a function of the amount invested in, the investment return and prevailing annuity rates. Therefore, the pension scheme member carries all the risks.
When looking at pension sharing and money purchase schemes it is important to check what internal options are available and to check these against what is available in the pensions market.
There will be no guarantees on the income payable until an annuity is purchased and the associated risks need to be considered in the context of retirement planning goals.
If you require further information on defined benefit or defined contribution schemes, please contact us here. You can find further information on pension sharing here.
Posted September 10th, 2010
In one of my previous blogs I covered the delays that can happen at the start of the process and lead to a postponement of implementation notice being issued. This blog covers the problems caused when the four month implementation period is breached and details what you can do about it.
The regulations set the timescale for implementing a pension sharing order at four months which you would expect is plenty time for the trustees of any pension scheme to organise the internal transfer or external transfer of pension assets. But it is not the trustees who usually arrange the implementation of a pension sharing order but the pension scheme administrator. Unfortunately, this can mean delays because the standard of pension administration differs hugely between administration providers and pension schemes.
Part II of the Pension Sharing (Implementation and Discharge) Regulations 2000/1053 sets out the requirements in terms of notifying the Pension Regulator of failure of the trustees to implement the share within the 4 months. This section also sets out the circumstances in which the trustees may seek an extension and penalties which may be applied (maximum £1,000 for individuals, £10,000 otherwise). Making the trustees aware of their duties to report to the Regulator should be enough to scare them into action.
In fact, in such cases it is usually the threat of going to the Regulator about delays which really gets things moving.
If you are suffering delays in the implementation of your pension sharing order or you are looking to avoid such problems, please contact me on 0800 092 1229 or email email@example.com
Posted September 6th, 2010
Pension sharing is a confusing and complicated part of any divorce settlement and there are many issues to be aware of before proceeding. Some examples include:
- The fairness of a cash equivalent transfer values (CETV).
- Internal transfer or external transfer?
- Moving target syndrome?
- Default options.
Therefore, it was a refreshing change to be contacted by a client this week who had received notification from her pension provider (Prudential) that she HAD to take financial advice before they would agree to accept the pension sharing order.
To avoid the pitfalls above it is important to take financial advice from a competent adviser, preferably one who is a Resolution Accredited Independent Financial Adviser (See link here). You may also wish to employ the services of an actuary that advises on pension and divorce cases.
If this is you and you are looking for financial advice on a pension sharing matter or if you require further information, please contact me on 0800 092 1229 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Posted August 31st, 2010
In my previous blog, I set out a summary of some of the common issues I am asked to help with in relation to the implementing of pension sharing orders. Here I will add some further information on issues surrounding the whereabouts of such orders.
Under the regulations, the court should send the pension sharing annex (form P1) within 7 days of the making of the pension sharing order or of decree absolute (whichever is the later) to the pension scheme involved.
This is immediately where a breakdown in communication can occur because the implementation period will not start until the pension scheme has all of the documentation necessary and received payment of its implementation fee. This documentation will not only include the decree absolute and the pension sharing annex but also birth certificates, and often, where the share is being dealt with by way of an external transfer, details of the new pension arrangement and a trustees indemnity. There can be other requirements.
I am often approached by clients who were not aware that they even had to make a decision on a new pension arrangement. This can hold up the process or even result in the existing scheme deciding upon a default option, which may not be appropriate.
I have even had on one occasion a client pass me a court stamped pension sharing order which had been kept safe in her drawer. It was 4 years old!
So it is important to keep tabs on where your pension sharing order is and who is responsible for making sure the order is implemented in a timely manner.
If this affects you and your pension sharing order has disappeared or you are unsure of what to do next, please contact me on 0800 092 1229 or email email@example.com