Trustees should deal with complaints on DB transfers

I can understand people feeling they have “missed the boat” in not taking a DB transfer.They shouldn’t as they haven’t and if trustees were more on the ball they would be writing to anyone who had inquired after a CETV in the past two years , explaining how they are calculated and why they have fallen since their 2020 highs.

This really is a trustee problem, and even if their administrators aren’t meeting service standards, it is trustees who need to deal with the complaints.

The communications issue in the E in CETV. E stands for “equivalent” but the equivalence is based on the accounting cost of a pension promise which is as easy to explain as your gas bill. Gas bills make sense to energy traders and CETVs make sense to actuaries – let’s leave it at that.

Unable to explain or manage the inexplicable, Mercer have found themselves being blamed for blocking transfers from the Elementis DB plan. It seems that they weren’t much help to one person trying to access their CETV who was complaining to Money Management

Client says Mercer ‘not fit for purpose’ over poor service

As miffed as the member is (and the member is said to be a former trustee) he is not as miffed as his adviser, who’s rant on Money Marketing is worth republishing,

Mathew Sinclair, a chartered financial adviser and pension transfer specialist at Wealth of Advice, is now advising the client.

He said Mercer had confirmed in a letter seen by Money Marketing that due to no fault of the member, the transfer value decreased by £72,000.

Sinclair said as Mercer did not provide the required information to the original adviser within the three-month guarantee period.

This meant that the former adviser was unable to provide any advice.

The letter also confirms that there has been a lack of response from Mercer, misleading information and different cost figures were provided.

He said the case, which has been ongoing since October 2022, is yet to be resolved and that “the responses we get from Mercer are unhelpful and do not take the case forward”.

Sinclair said Mercer has blocked him and the member from complaining directly to the trustees.

“It is impossible to fully convey my frustration at the (lack of) service I have received from Mercer.  The whole process has impacted my own health and it is infuriating trying to deal with Mercer, because I have been told conflicting information on multiple occasions and Mercer regularly fails to deliver on their promises,” the client told Money Marketing.  

“Any scheme trustee who has an involvement with Mercer should seriously consider a change, because I believe that Mercer hides their errors from the trustees in the hope that the members will get fed up with trying to complain and will drop the issue.

“I have been trying to complain to the trustees since July 2022 [multiple times]. If you are a trustee of the Elementis DB Scheme, please get in touch. I urge the regulator to act because I believe that many vulnerable members are being let down by Mercer!”

The transfer value fell because the discount rate for the liabilities rose, if the transfer had been taken at the point when the first CETV was issued, the “client” would have had a bigger DC pot, we will never know what would have happened to the pot had it been full of CETVs- but we do know that the client has the same DB promise now as he had before.

We all have a right to a certain quality of service and the trustees of the DB scheme will have a service agreement with Mercer. If the service to the member is in breach of the service agreement, then the trustees can take action against Mercer in line with the terms of its contract.

If as stated by Matthew Sinclair , Mercer has stopped him and his client complaining to the Trustees, then he must try harder. Here they are


The current and past officers are listed on the Companies House Website

Catching a falling knife

As mentioned in a previous blog, trustees make the orders and administrators execute them. It’s not the administrator’s fault that the CETV went down but if – as alleged – they made it hard for a CETV to be taken , then the trustees should be aware – it becomes their problem if a complaint is made to them.

Trustees own the data on their members and as data controllers, they and not Mercer are responsible for its use.

The client and his adviser should write to all the trustees listed on the Companies House site at the addresses shown and ask what recourse they can expect. I think this is more likely to get a response if the Pension Ombudsman is copied in.

CETVs are falling like a knife, and doing as much damage to those who feel they are missing out. Like it or not, CETVs are set and paid by trustees, they cannot ignore member complaints. They should deal with them and ensure that members and administrators play nicely.




About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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1 Response to Trustees should deal with complaints on DB transfers

  1. Caroline Instance says:

    My problem was, when I wanted to transfer to a SIPP the balance of my DB benefits (which I knew would take over the LA limit) I could find no IFA ( an essential requirement) to take my case. It was not possible to do it on my own and I ran out time.

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