My Pension Mess has been fixed.
Back in September 2016 I published an honest story about my pensions mess, you can read it here. My pension is something that I always brushed under the carpet. I (rather mistakenly) didn’t pay in to my scheme during my twenties and started contributing to my company pension when I was 32.
The consequence being that I missed the golden years of my youth contributions when I had no outgoings relating to children (read that as non-expensive outgoings!). Who knows how much money I missed out on putting into my pension. Especially when you consider the impact of the time value of money (money invested 15 years ago, is worth a lot more now ). Maybe £50k? Or £100k? Best not think about it too much.
I cannot change the past, but I can make decisions about the present and set myself up for the future. I made the decision to unlock my frozen pensions by transferring them over to PensionBee. This gives me freedom to make choices and prepare for retirement.
I kicked off the process by starting the transfer on 24th November 2016. Two pension pots from my previous companies EE and Threshers (FQR Ltd) were to be transferred. Simple you would think.
Before I put any transfers into place I firstly gave each pension company a call to check my balance and to check the fees I was paying each year. Also, the returns they had been giving me on average each year. I then had something to compare to PensionBee.
The PensionBee Tracker plan fee of 0.5% was cheaper than one fund (0.6%,) and a tiny bit more than the other fund (0.46%) and the returns which are by no means guaranteed, looked good.
However, the most important part for me was that my frozen schemes would be unlocked and I would now be able to pay into my pension scheme when I so chose.
To kick off the process I very simply added my existing pension company names, account numbers, address, previous address, name and maiden name. The information was whizzed over to the BeeKeepers who then did all the chasing and organising for me. I received friendly and simple email communication throughout the transfer process.
Let’s start the clock
My details were provided to PensionBee on 24th November. An email on 29th November told me that my smaller Threshers/FQR pension pot was ready to be transferred! But my bigger EE pension pot required paper forms to be signed by me – or delays could ensue. I just needed to e-sign a letter saying that Pensionbee could act on my behalf, and this was organised very securely on 29th November.
On 22nd December I received an email to say my pension funds of around 11k had been transferred from my simpler Legal & General, FQR policy. I could now see my balance in my PensionBee dashboard!
But there were delays to my EE transfer as the provider was dragging their heels and required an actual pen to paper signature.
Forms were posted to me for my EE pension that I just needed to sign and return in the pre-paid envelope. It was Christmas and New year and I sat on them for two weeks. PensionBee sent me a chaser email on 5th January which prompted me to remember, sign and return them. On 6th Feb I received an email from BeeKeeper Jack to say that my EE pension of 31k was in the process of being transferred. I got my completion email on 10th Feb.
From initiation to final transfer completion took 78 days! Even without my two-week delay of sitting on forms it would still have been 64 days! This is no fault of PensionBee – rather the established pension companies who drag their heels with the transfer of funds. To improve things PensionBee are campaigning and lobbying the government to enforce a ten-day switch guarantee. After all, why shouldn’t switching pension providers be just as simple as switching your bank account? You can support the PensionBee campaign for a ten-day transfer by sending a letter to your MP here.
I was put at ease by the regular emails from the PensionBee team who kept me well informed, even chasing me when I forgot to sign and return the forms to them! But I still do not understand why it should take so long to transfer my money to a pensions company of my choice! You can support the PensionBee campaign for a ten-day transfer by sending a letter to your MP here.
I can check how much is in my pension pot every day and see how it changes over time. I am planning to start up a monthly direct debit into my pension pot as soon as my turnover allows me.
This potentially scary and painful decision to sort out my pension was made simple by PensionBee who did all the work for me.
I can use the calculator on the PensionBee website to see what my fund would be worth to me when I retire. This is the very scary part. If I wanted to retire at 65, invested nothing more into my pot, and just let it grow naturally with the fund growth, it would be worth £4,680 per year. This is just £390 per month. This is not good, really not good.
I need to act to make my income higher and this is the next part of my financial plan. I want to plan effectively for the future with my pension, savings, and stocks and shares investments. It feels so good to be in control of my finances and future.
Please be aware that any form of investment can go up and down. You may want to consider advice from a qualified IFA. Just make sure they come recommended by a trusted friend and check their investment levels. Some will only work with clients with an investment level of at least £150k. This post was written in collaboration with PensionBee.