Complaining about your pension scheme

Personal, stakeholder and workplace pension schemes must obey strict rules laid down by regulatory bodies. If you're concerned there might be something wrong with your pension scheme or how it is managed, there are organisations that investigate pension complaints.

How to complain – first steps

Personal pensions

If you have a personal pension scheme, the company that sold it to you must have a formal complaints procedure. Your should complain first to the financial adviser or pension provider that sold you the pension plan.

Stakeholder pensions

Stakeholder pensions are personal, flexible pensions which you can arrange for yourself. Some employers provide a stakeholder pension as a workplace pension for employees. If you need to complain, you should ask your employer about the formal complaints procedure. If you arranged it yourself, speak to the financial adviser or company that sold you the pension.

Workplace pensions

Workplace pension schemes, which are provided through your work, by law must offer a formal complaints procedure. You should complain first to the pension provider using their complaints procedure.

They must reply to your complaint within eight weeks.

Complaining - next steps

If you're not satisfied after making a complaint to the person who sold you the pension, or with your workplace scheme, you can take it further.

The Pensions Advisory Service

The Pensions Advisory Service gives free and independent advice about personal, stakeholder and workplace pensions. Their network of volunteer pension professionals can help if you have a complaint or dispute about your pension arrangement.

The Pensions Ombudsman and the Financial Ombudsman Service

The Pensions Advisory Service will tell you whether you have a valid complaint to take to the next stage - this can be taking your case to either the Pensions Ombudsman or the Financial Ombudsman Service. An ombudsman is an independent official who investigates and resolves complaints.

The services of the Pensions Ombudsman and Financial Ombudsman are free and their decisions are binding.

Case of poor management

The Pensions Ombudsman investigates complaints about how pension schemes are run. If you believe your scheme's being badly run or mismanaged, the Pensions Ombudsman will investigate your complaint.

Case of mis-selling

The Financial Ombudsman Service investigates complaints about how pension schemes are sold. The Financial Ombudsman Service will investigate your complaint if:

  • you believe you were sold a pension that was not right for your circumstances
  • you were not warned that the amount your pension would pay was not guaranteed
  • Financial Ombudsman Service

Regulatory bodies

If your pension scheme administrators have broken the law you can ask for them to be investigated by the appropriate regulatory body. You can also ask for your administrators to be investigated if they breach the rules governing their conduct.

Workplace pension schemes are governed by the Pensions Regulator

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) governs providers of personal and stakeholder pensions. FCA has general advice about pensions on its website.

Getting compensation

The Pension Protection Fund (PPF)

The PPF takes responsibility for your workplace pension if the pension company becomes insolvent and the pension scheme doesn't have enough money to pay your pension. However, the scheme must not have started winding up before 6 April 2005.

Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS)

You might be able to get compensation from the FSCS if:

  • your personal pension is not being paid because a financial firm has gone out of business
  • your scheme can't pay money it owes you
  • you have lost money because you have been wrongly advised by an authorised financial adviser 
  • Financial Services Compensation Scheme

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