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Pension transfer values peak but activity falls

16 September 2019

Transfer values rose to record highs in August 2019, according to the XPS Pensions Group’s Transfer Watch. However, the number of members requesting a transfer value fell.

The Watch monitors how market developments have affected transfer values for an example member, as well as how many members are choosing to take a transfer value.

The group’s Transfer Value Index jumped sharply during August, rising to £258,200 on 21 August before peaking at £258,600 on 29 August 2019. It fell slightly to £255,600 at the end of the month, up from £247,400 at the end of July 2019. The increase was largely driven by a significant fall in gilt yields during August, partially offset by a smaller fall in inflation expectations.

XPS Pensions Group’s Transfer Activity Index recorded a fall in the number transfers that the administration business processed during August, to an annual equivalent of 0.86% of eligible members, down from 0.98% in July.

XPS said this is broadly in line with the rates seen in the last few months, but significantly down on the rates of 1.46% observed last August.

The group also noted that with the withdrawal from the market of one of the UK’s largest pension transfer advisors, LEBC, following a review from the Financial Conduct Authority, a significant strain is likely to be put on the already busy market for independent financial advice.

Mark Barlow, Partner, XPS Pensions Group commented: “August was a particularly turbulent month for the financial markets which resulted in transfer values hitting all-time highs. Transfer activity has remained quite steady recently and it will be interesting to see whether current high transfer values will impact on activity over the coming months.

“However, members may find it difficult to obtain financial advice on their pension transfer. The withdrawal of one of the UK’s largest advisors from the market, together with the potential forthcoming ban on contingent charging, is likely to create an advice capacity crunch.”

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