Two in five DB pension scheme members (39%) are worried they won’t have enough money to see them through retirement, according to new research from Barnett Waddingham. Concerningly, this increases to 46% of those approaching retirement (aged 45-54).

Most worrying is the finding that 13% of DB members said that the rising cost-of-living has made them more likely to transfer out of their DB pension – this is true of 18% of under 40s, and 8% of over 40s. Given any money transferred out of a DB pension wouldn’t be available to members until they reach age 55, these savers are at risk of falling prey to scams.

Support for DB members

Many members display a lack of confidence when it comes to making decisions about their DB pensions. More than one in five (22%) are actively unconfident, rising to 30% of women.

This is likely connected to the polarised landscape of support offered by DB pension schemes. 49% of members have not had any support from their DB scheme to help make decisions about their pension – and concerningly, this rises to 58% of those aged 40+, who need support the most in the run up to retirement.

Comparatively, 51% have had support. Of those:

  • 31% have benefited from frequent communication about their options in the years leading up to their planned retirement
  • 24% have received financial advice from an independent financial adviser (IFA) appointed by the scheme that they paid for themselves
  • 22% have had advice from an IFA the scheme paid for on their behalf.


Of those without support, 40% don’t want any, while 60% would appreciate support from their scheme. Of those who haven’t received support but would like some:

  • 43% would like more frequent communications in the run-up to retirement
  • 41% want 1-1 guidance sessions provided by a financial adviser or other knowledgeable individual, organised by their scheme
  • 32% would want financial advice from an IFA paid for by the scheme, while 22% would be happy to pay for that advice themselves.


The trustee landscape

Looking at the realities for schemes, trustees’ offerings seem largely aligned with the desires from members. 48% DB pension trustees say that their scheme has partnered with a specialist IFA, with the cost of advice met by the scheme or company sponsor, while 40% have done so with the cost met by members. 38% say they have provided a contribution to the member’s own costs of obtaining financial advice. These findings are notably high, and likely led by the predominance of large schemes captured in the survey – smaller schemes generally don’t have such fulsome offerings.

Crucially, a massive 76% of trustees believe that schemes should be partnering with an IFA to support members at retirement, so long as they have the support from the sponsor. Only 22% don’t agree.

Debra Logan, Partner at Barnett Waddingham, comments: “Now more than ever, it’s vital trustees and scheme sponsors are rallying to provide the best support to members. The cost-of-living crisis is creating a ripe space for scammers to prey on those struggling to make ends meet. TPR’s guidance last year gave trustees the power to halt suspicious transfers if there’s a heightened risk it may be part of a scam, but it’s vital members feel empowered to spot scams themselves too. Fundamentally, nobody under 55 could transfer out of their pension into cash – anybody who says they can make that happen is lying.

But there is a clear gap in knowledge and confidence amongst members. Much of this can be solved through better communication and knowledge-sharing, as well as bespoke support from an IFA. It’s positive that there’s a clear alignment amongst members and trustees in favour of offering financial advice via a scheme – the next step is to put that into practice and ensure all members have the tools they need to make the best decisions about their pension.”

Press and media enquiries

For further information, please contact our press team on +44 149 478 8813 or via email.


Stay up to date

Get the latest independent commentary and exclusive insights from a range of experts at the forefront of risk, pensions, investment and insurance – tailored to your preference.

Subscribe today