Advice checker: defined benefit pension transfers

Find out if the defined benefit (DB) pension transfer advice you received was right for you. If you received unsuitable advice you could be owed money.

First published: 03/06/2020 Last updated: 20/03/2023 See all updates

The FCA and The Pensions Regulator (TPR) believe that it’s in most people’s best interests to keep their DB pension. Find out more about what changed when you transferred.

Did you get advice on transferring your DB pension?

If you were advised to transfer out of a scheme, or if you transferred because the firm encouraged you to, you may have received unsuitable advice.

You can use our advice checker if:

  • you transferred out of a DB pension scheme after April 2015, and
  • an FCA authorised firm advised you to transfer

You can check our Financial Services Register to make sure a firm is authorised and has permission for the service it’s offering you.

Check if you received poor pension transfer advice

If you received unsuitable transfer advice, you could be owed money. To receive this you’ll need to complain.

If you were always going to transfer, no matter what your adviser said about the disadvantages, it’s less likely that you'll have a valid complaint.

If you would have reconsidered your options, had you been advised not to transfer, you should consider complaining.

Pension transfer advice video series

Watch our 5 step-by-step video guides explaining what you should expect when taking advice in connection with transferring out of a DB scheme, and into a defined contribution (DC) scheme.

What to do if you think you received poor advice

It's quick, simple and free to make a complaint or a claim. 

You don’t need to use a claims management company or a solicitor. If you do, you will have to share any compensation you get with them.


Contact your adviser

You should first complain to the adviser who gave you the advice.

Contact them as soon as possible and make a record of how and when you got in touch. 

In general, authorised financial services firms must respond to your complaint in writing within 8 weeks. They must tell you whether the complaint has been successful or why they need more time to investigate.

Once your adviser has looked at your complaint, they will send you a final response letter with their findings.


Complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service

If you’re not happy with the response you get from the firm, or you don’t hear from them within 8 weeks, the Financial Ombudsman Service may be able to help.

The Financial Ombudsman is an independent service for settling disputes between financial services firms and their customers. It will ask the adviser to explain what it thinks happened and then decide whether to uphold your complaint.

It’s completely free to use and claim experts will support you at every stage of your claim, helping you submit the right information.

It’s important you contact the Financial Ombudsman within 6 months of receiving a final response from your adviser, or it may not be able to help with your complaint.

If the company is no longer in business

If your adviser is no longer in business, you can submit a claim to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

The FSCS is free to use and may be able to compensate you up to £85,000 if it decides you’ve suffered a financial loss as a result of the poor advice you received.

Ongoing advice

You may be taking ongoing advice on your investments. This may include paying a regular or ongoing fee to your adviser for services such as reviewing your investments.

If your complaint was successful, you received compensation, and you’re taking ongoing advice, you can still decide whether to continue with this advice. 

If you choose to continue with ongoing advice, you can decide which adviser to use for this service.
Whether or not you take ongoing advice in a DC pension scheme, make sure you regularly monitor your investments to make sure they meet your retirement needs.

What changed when you transferred

When you transferred your DB pension to a DC pension, you gave up a guaranteed lifetime income that usually increases each year in line with inflation.

Instead, you invested the value of your DB pension (known as the 'transfer value') to build up a personal pot of money.

When you die, you can say who should receive your remaining pension pot. If you’d stayed in your DB scheme, your partner may have continued to receive a pension at a reduced rate after your death.

Accessing your pension pot

In the DB scheme, you could have chosen to give up some of the income so that you could receive a tax-free lump sum.

In the DC scheme, you can choose how to use the pot for allowable tax-free lump sums and retirement income.

You may have already accessed your pot. But unless you choose to buy a guaranteed lifetime income, known as an annuity, there are no guarantees that your pension pot will let you maintain your chosen income for the rest of your life.

This is because the value of your pension pot is affected by changes in the value of the assets you invest in (such as shares, bonds and property) and it moves up and down in value.

MoneyHelper has more information about annuities.

Responsibility for payments

In the DB scheme, the employer and trustees of the scheme were responsible for making sure there was enough money to pay your pension income at your retirement date. You paid no charges to manage your pot.

In the DC scheme, you or your adviser are responsible for managing the pot and making sure there’s enough money to pay your pension income until it runs out.

You’ll need to pay charges if you choose to take advice on how to invest. You also need to pay charges to the pension scheme operator and investment managers.

Page updates

: Editorial amendment page update as part of website refresh
: Editorial amendment New format for pensions transfer advice checker
: Information changed pension transfer advice videos updated
: Editorial amendment General page updates.