A year of pension freedom has transformed the way Brits are thinking about retirement, according to data from unbiased.co.uk, which connects millions to great financial advice.
Advice-seeking has been the main legacy of pension freedom– with more consumers than ever before now searching for specialist retirement advice. The most popular retirement related advice searches in 2015 were on retirement planning, pension review, drawdown and pension transfer.
The data also shows the number of retirement related advice searches more than doubling between January 2015 and January 2016.
Despite the new pension freedom affecting people at retirement, searches on retirement planning were also up, suggesting that even people a long way from retirement have become more engaged with the issue as a result of the new changes.
In January – which sees a rise in people searching for financial advice – retirement advice was the most popular search of all searches for advice. Collectively, there were as many retirement-related enquiries on unbiased.co.uk as all other kinds of advice enquiries put together.
According to research* by unbiased.co.uk, nearly two thirds (60 per cent) of people yet to retire said they would not be confident exercising any pension option without professional advice. Confidence was lowest (8 per cent) for drawdown.
Karen Barrett, chief executive of unbiased.co.uk, commented: ‘January and April always see spikes in advice enquiries – being respectively New Year and the new tax year – but pension freedom sent searches through the roof. People at or near retirement suddenly found themselves in the driving seat, and it’s encouraging that so many took the sensible option and immediately turned to a professional adviser. Some may have found that they needed to amend their existing retirement plans, or else found that they could achieve a retirement that previously they hadn’t dreamed of. Most of all, I think people simply wanted reassurance that their existing retirement provisions were sound, and that they wouldn’t blunder into a decision they might later regret.
‘Search criteria that might have been rarely used in the past, such as drawdown and pension transfer, were suddenly among the most popular on unbiased.co.uk. People started asking the right questions and turning to the right people for the answers.
‘The big risk of pension freedom was always that it was more complex, and that people could easily stray into poor (and irreversible) choices. There also remains the heightened risk of fraud and exploitation of the vulnerable. But those who have turned to an adviser find themselves doubly protected – both from the risks of inappropriate decisions, and from those who don’t have their best interests at heart. I hope that this trend for advice seeking will continue with the next wave of retirees.’
Traffic throughout the year showed that the busiest months for searches on pension advice were immediately before pension freedom came into effect, and immediately after its introduction. The most searches occurred in March, April and May 2015. October saw a spike in searches too, coinciding with the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement confirming changes to the State Pension and pension taxation.
Karen Barrett continued: ‘This is a real insight into people’s advice needs. Transfers, consolidation, annuities and drawdown are complex issues, but also the areas where help from an adviser can deliver the most value. Many people are now looking at a retirement lasting 30 year or so, which means that it’s never been more important to feel confident in the choices you make at the start. By seeking advice, retirees can feel reassured that they have taken the best steps towards the retirement they want.’
Notes to editors:
All search data provided by unbiased.co.uk. Data based on searches completed on the site between January 2015 and January 2016.
*Unbiased.co.uk research conducted by Opinium between 13-16 November 2015, among 2,006 nationally representative UK adults aged 18+.
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Anna Schirmer/ Frederica Saunders, Lansons: 020 7294 3682
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