Savers access £3.2bn from pension pots without advice

Savers have accessed over £3.2bn of their savings through pension freedoms without taking any financial advice, new research from Saga has revealed.

The study, which interviewed more than 2,000 adults, also found that only 20 per cent of people would consider taking advice when accessing their pension pot through pension freedoms, while 84 per cent still do not know what pension freedoms is.

Since the launch of pension freedoms in April 2015, £23.6bn has been withdrawn from savers pension pots. A survey conducted by Censuswide last month, found that on average, regular annual pension freedoms withdrawals are 4.7 per cent of fund value.

Saga Money managing director, Jeff Bromage, said that the group was “incredibly disappointed” that the Chancellor failed to address the need for the need for more financial advice relating to pension freedoms in his Spring Statement yesterday, 13 March.

“When pension freedom was first announced in 2015, the government initially promised that all over-55s with defined contribution pension pots would be eligible for free pension advice through its Pension Wise service. This promise was later diluted to the Pension Wise service providing ‘guidance’,” he said.

“With financial advice deemed too expensive for many, we have seen a startling number of retirees simply accessing their pensions pots without seeking advice.”

The over-50s provider said that is calling on the government to “urgently review” the ‘guidance’ offered by Pension Wise, now under the guise of The Money and Pensions Service.

The research also found that lack of awareness of pension freedoms grew among women, with 88 per cent unsure of what it is.

Delivering a speech yesterday, outgoing Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) chief executive, Mark Neale, said that facing up pension freedoms will be the biggest challenge for the lifeboat over the next decade.

Neale said that while we should be prepared for failures in the financial services retail market, the next the “real challenge” will be tackling the risks and opportunities created by pension freedoms.

The FSCS said it has paid out £581m in the five years since pension freedoms, compared to £80m in the four years before it took effect.

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