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Pension Wise – the help it can give you

By Paul Davies

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Pension Wise – the help it can give you

Find out what Pension Wise is and how it works, as well as what will and won't be covered in your session.

The government has created more choice for pension income and committed to giving people help in making these complex decisions. This help comes in the form of a pensions guidance session called Pension Wise.

What is Pension Wise?

In July 2014, it was announced that people about to retire would get free, impartial guidance on what to do with the money in their defined contribution (DC) schemes (also called 'money purchase' schemes, where your money has been invested and you decide what to do with it at retirement) as part of major pension changes in April 2015.

The guidance began in April 2015 and is being delivered by independent organisations, namely The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) and Citizens Advice. 

Which? called for the guidance to be delivered only by independent organisations with no interest in selling a financial product or service – and this is what the government agreed to do. It is paid for by a levy on financial companies.

In January 2015, the guidance for people on pensions, previously known as the 'guidance guarantee', was officially branded as 'Pension Wise: Your money. Your choice' with an accompanying logo. The service is now available to anyone aged 50 or above. Find our more about Pension Wise.

Anyone with a DC pension who is approaching retirement and would like the chance to access the service of Pension Wise can call to book an appointment on 0800 138 3944.

How does Pension Wise work?

The guidance is providing tailored help and highlights the options available to you, but it doesn't give specific product or provider recommendations. Only regulated financial advisers are allowed to do that, and you have to pay for it.

Guidance is available either face to face or via telephone.

The Pension Wise session covers the following areas:

  • informing consumers of the scope, purpose and limitations of the session
  • requesting information from the consumer about their accumulated pension pots
  • requesting information about the consumer's financial and personal circumstances
  • alerting consumers to other sources of information and advice
  • identifying options relevant to the consumer
  • pointing out tax implications and debt obligations
  • setting out the next steps for consumers to take
  • providing consumers with a record of their guidance session.

Who provides the guidance?

Citizens Advice and The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) are delivering the government’s guidance guarantee under the Pension Wise brand. The Money Advice Service (MAS) offers related options including a retirement adviser directory for consumers who would like to find a regulated financial adviser.

Citizens Advice provides expert face-to-face guidance, while TPAS provides telephone guidance. 

In the 2016 Budget, it was announced that the government guidance services Pension Wise and the Pensions Advisory Service will merge by 2018.

  • Last updated: January 2017
  • Updated by: Paul Davies

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