Our resident expert explains how long you should have to wait and how you can raise a grievance
Thursday 26 May 2022 Author: Tom Sieber

I’m in the process of transferring my old workplace pension to a SIPP. So far it has taken two months with no obvious end in sight. Getting through to my existing provider is an absolute nightmare – several emails have gone unanswered and their phone lines leave me on hold for hours at a time.

Surely this cannot be acceptable in 2022? Is there anything I can do to speed things up?


Tom Selby, AJ Bell Head of Retirement Policy says:

While pension transfer times have improved significantly in some parts of the market, in other parts things can still be painfully slow.

In most cases, a simple transfer from a defined contribution (DC) pension such as a SIPP to another DC pension should take a matter of weeks.

Transfers involving cash should usually take two-to-four weeks, while funds (four-to-six weeks) and shares (six-to-eight weeks) can take a little bit longer.

It is possible a transfer delay will be perfectly legitimate. For example, if the person making the transfer fills out information incorrectly this will inevitably slow the process down.

Transfers from defined benefit (DB) schemes or pensions with guarantees also require the member to seek regulated advice first where the benefits are valued at £30,000 or more, which will also naturally hold things up.

In addition, regulations were introduced last year which mean transfers can be delayed when the scheme you are transferring from (sometimes referred to as the ‘ceding’ scheme) has legitimate suspicions the scheme you are transferring to (the ‘receiving’ scheme) might be a scam.

However, this should not affect legitimate transfers to established, regulated providers.

The reasons for many transfer delays are sadly due to failings at the ceding scheme. This can particularly be the case with older schemes or those operated by closed-book insurers, where systems may  be antiquated.

Ultimately for any transfer to be enacted quickly and efficiently, it takes two to tango – which clearly isn’t the case where a ceding scheme doesn’t respond to emails or phone calls.

If your scheme continues to be unresponsive you should make a formal complaint (if you haven’t already).

As well as trying to contact via telephone and email you should raise your issue via the company’s Twitter account (if they have one) – this can often be an effective way of getting attention as all financial services firms hate bad publicity.

If the scheme fails to respond within eight weeks of your complaint or you are not happy with their reply, you can take your case to the Pensions Ombudsman Service.

You can find details of how these complaints work here.


Send an email to asktom@sharesmagazine.co.uk with the words ‘Retirement question’ in the subject line. We’ll do our best to respond in a future edition of Shares.

Please note, we only provide information and we do not
provide financial advice. If you’re unsure please consult a suitably qualified financial adviser. We cannot comment on individual investment portfolios.

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