Half a million pension transfers in 2017

More than half a million transfers of pensions assets, worth £31bn, were made in 2017, a 44 per cent increase since 2015, according to industry standards body Origo.

The organisation said overall transfer volumes through its Options Transfer service were up by 15 per cent on 2016, with transfer values up by 27 on the previous year, and up 44 per cent since April 2015.

Sipps were the biggest beneficiary of the trend, with the number of transfers up by 30 per cent on 2016 and seeing a 39 per cent increase in value.

Average transfer time remains at 10 calendar days, including time taken to process monies through the banking system.

The not-for-profit fintech has been handling the industry’s automated pension transfers through its Options Transfers since 2008 and has transferred in excess of £130 billion of pensions money in that time.

More than 100 brands using the service across pension providers, administrators and platforms, making its figures the most comprehensive in the industry.

There has been a dramatic rise in transfer volumes through the service in the years since the pensions freedoms were announced, rising from £17.3bn in 2014 to £21.5bn in 2015, £24.3bn in 2016 and £30.9bn in 2017.

The average payment amount in a pension-to-pension transfer was £57,000. Transfers into Sipps dominated the pension transfer market in 2017, accounting for 51 per cent of all transfers in through the Options Transfers service.

Since 2014, when the pensions freedoms were first announced, volumes of transfers into Sipps have almost doubled – increasing by 98 per cent – and values have more than doubled – rising by 121 per cent.

Origo managing director Anthony Rafferty says: “Transfers are likely to continue as more people reach the age at which they will want to consider transferring their pension to access the freedoms. Our data shows that the average age for people transferring their pension is 53.        “The upward trend of pensions re-registration is only going to continue. Re-registration offers many benefits to the consumer, including not having to liquidate assets which could cause a taxable event, as well as keeping the consumer in the market.

“Automation of the re-registration process helps to speed up the transfer process for the end consumer while offering organisations significant cost efficiencies in streamlining their administration processes, as well as providing MI on their performance and records for auditing purposes.

“As more innovative and flexible products are produced in order to meet customer demand, we expect to see more transfers taking place, both in terms of volumes and value of transfers and, in particular, a rise in re-registration of assets through the Options Transfers service.”