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PensionBee Research Finds 50% Of Savers Making a Pension Contribution Had To Complete Paperwork

New research from online pension provider PensionBee has found that 42% of savers who have previously tried to change pension providers feel that the process was so difficult that they would not attempt another transfer. Many savers also reported issues accessing support from their providers during the transfer process, with more than half (51%) citing some kind of difficulty, from long waiting times (22%) to giving up after multiple failed attempts (9%).

In addition, 50% of savers who attempted to transfer a defined contribution pension were still required to complete paperwork, with more than a quarter (27%) having to complete multiple sets of forms. This is despite electronic transfers being widely recognised as much faster, more efficient and secure for consumers than traditional paper-based methods.

Slow, difficult transfers have been an issue for many years. In 2016 the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) asked the pensions industry to speed up transfers for the benefit of savers and a number of working groups, like TRIG and STAR, were formed. However, recent data published by Origo Options, the pension transfer
service, showed that five years after this process began transfer times are in fact slowing down.

PensionBee’s own data reveals a series of slow transfer offenders, with Mercer at an average of 46 days to transfer and Now Pensions (44 days) and Capita (40 days) not far behind.

PensionBee CEO, Romi Savova, comments: “Long and complex processes deter people from engaging with their pensions and switching when it may be in their best interests to do so. Low levels of digitisation exacerbate chronic under-saving because people don’t have the right tools and information to understand the importance of planning ahead for their financial future. Technology provides an opportunity for the industry to better engage savers, and it’s time for pensions to make their way into the 21st century with a simple, modern pension switch guarantee.”

PensionBee findings came from several surveys, each with between 420 and 430 respondents. The results of how difficult it was to transfer a pension, accessing support during the transfer process, and how digital the transfer process was are shown below:

Table 1. Difficulty of transfer. 

My previous pension transfer experiences have been difficult and I would not attempt another.Proportion of respondents
Strongly agree17%
Neither agree nor disagree20%
Strongly Disagree14%


Table 2. Accessing support during the transfer process

Accessing support during the transfer process How easy was it to get support by phone, email, or LiveChat from your old provider?Proportion of respondents
Easy, I tried and got support at first attempt within a reasonable timeframe26%
I’ve never felt the need to seek support from my provider22%
Fairly easy, I tried and got support at first attempt but with a long waiting time22%
Hard, it took multiple attempts to get support10%
Very hard, despite multiple attempts, I didn’t get support9%
Hard, I tried once and gave up6%
I failed to get support from my pension provider as I couldn’t find their contact details5%


Table 3. Transfer Process

How was the process of changing pension providers managed?Proportion of respondents
It was all online41%
There were multiple sets of paperwork27%
There was one set of paperwork23%
I can’t remember8%


Table 4. Slowest providers for pension transfers

Provider NameAverage days to transfer
Hargreaves Lansdown48
NOW Pensions44


  • Francis is a journalist and our lead LatAm correspondent, with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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