Accountants, Financial and Business Advisers, Armstrong Watson, are warning pension savers of the importance of seeking professional financial advice following worrying information released by Action Fraud last week. This data revealed that pension savers may have lost more than £30 million to scammers since 2017 according to complaints filed with Action Fraud, and information from the Financial Conduct Authority and The Pensions Regulator.
The latest figures suggest that men aged in their 50s are the most likely victims of fraudsters who target long-term pension savings, with scammers targeting pension pots both big and small.
Paul Dickson, Chief Executive of Armstrong Watson and Armstrong Watson Financial Planning Limited, believes other key information quoted within the Action Fraud ScamSmart campaign might go some way to explain why UK workers are falling victim to these scams:
“Within the Action Fraud research just 43% of people approaching retirement knew how much was in their pension pot and 45% did not know how to check if an approach about their pension was legitimate. Set against this, ‘overconfidence’ is referenced as a concern, with 65% saying they would be confident in spotting approach, however, 39% would put themselves at risk unknowingly by engaging with the common scam tactic such as being told it’s a time limited offer, or that there is a guaranteed high return on their savings.”
Indeed the research reports that scammers often design attractive offers to persuade individuals to transfer their pension pot to them; often setting time limited offers or deadlines to pressure people in to acting. Action Fraud go on to report that the true number of victims may actually be even higher than the figures quoted in the research.
Iain Lightfoot, Joint Managing Director and Partner of Armstrong Watson Financial Planning Limited, comments “before making decisions about your life’s savings, you need to research who you are dealing with” and provides a number of additional tips to help people better protect themselves from scammers, including :
- Don’t accept unexpected pension offers that come your way either online or via the phone
- Always check who you’re dealing with before changing your pension arrangements – you can do this via the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Register to see if the firm you’re dealing with is authorized by the FCA
- Don’t be rushed or pressured into making any quick decisions about your pension
- Always consider taking impartial, independent information or advice
- If you’re not sure where to start looking for an adviser, professional service review sites such as Unbiased and Vouched For can provide a great starting point
- Use a trusted local firm of authorised and regulated financial advisers
As Chartered, independent financial advisers, Armstrong Watson have recognised this issue for some time and are aiming to help tackle the problem in the North of England and Scotland with the recent launch of their Financial Education and Wellbeing service for employers and their employees.
“We believe that financial stability is a huge factor with regard to wellbeing and we’ve recently been working with a number of like-minded businesses, of all sizes and types, providing bespoke financial learning to their employees. This ranges from offering an understanding around pension planning, family budgeting through to savings and investments – we cover whatever it is employees are looking to learn more about.”