The CETV guarantee date is not a deadline
A client approaches a firm with a guaranteed Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV) and wants financial advice. More specifically, they have asked whether they should transfer out of their DB scheme. The CETV guarantee date expires soon. Sound familiar? So what does this mean for advisers and should the guaranteed CETV be treated as a deadline?
The three month guarantee period
When a member requests a CETV, the trustees of the scheme must issue this within three months of the request and state the date to which the guarantee applies. The CETV is then valid for three months from the guarantee date, and if the client wishes to transfer their pension, they must receive financial advice* from a qualified financial adviser and sign and return the discharge papers before the CETV expiry date, to secure the transfer value quoted. (* where the value of safeguarded benefits exceeds £30,000).
If the discharge papers are signed after the CETV has expired, then the scheme is within its rights to recalculate the CETV, which could result in the client receiving a lower CETV. Some firms will agree to a transfer going through (if the discharge papers are received within one month of the guarantee date having expired) on condition that the recalculated CETV is no lower than 10% of the original CETV, however, this is not the case with all schemes.
Deadline or not?
While a firm should acknowledge the importance of a CETV and the guarantee expiry date, it is not a deadline in which financial advice must be concluded as there are other options that can be considered. However, before agreeing to take on a client, a firm should consider whether they have sufficient time (given client circumstances) to be able to provide robust retirement planning advice to the client, giving the client sufficient reflection time to make an informed decision, prior to the CETV expiring. If a firm cannot provide financial advice to the client before the CETV expires, but still wishes to take on the client, then they have the following options:
- Contact the scheme
The first option would be to contact the scheme and ask if they will honour the CETV. We have seen instances in which a scheme has agreed to honour the existing CETV rather than run a full recalculation. This would not normally incur any additional cost for the client or the firm, but gives certainty that the advice can be based on the quoted CETV.
- Apply for a new CETV
Most schemes offer one CETV calculation without charge within a 12 month period, but will charge an additional fee for a recalculation, usually around £250. It should be noted that if, upon recalculation, the client’s CETV has changed (positive or negative), then any analysis must be based on the new CETV, which will need to include a new TVC and related analysis. Firms should also consider whether the new CETV would affect the adviser charge.
Can we proceed regardless?
We have seen evidence of firms accepting clients even though the CETV is close to expiry (sometimes within 2-3 weeks of the expiry date or even shorter). Realistically, this leaves insufficient time in which the firm can receive all the details from the scheme (which can take up to 6 weeks), put the recommendation together, discuss it with the client and leave an appropriate period for the client to reflect on the decision whether to transfer or not.
We have also seen firms proceeding with advice even though the CETV guaranteed date has expired. We would strongly recommend against this course of action for the main reason being that the client may receive a substantially lower CETV once the scheme recalculates their benefits. Should this happen, then the whole advice may be brought into question. For example, the client may not be able to achieve their objectives of making a capital purchase through tax free cash only and may be need to also access taxable income, the cashflow model may be incorrect leading to sustainability issue or the firm may be charging the client a larger fee versus their fee scale percentage as the initial fee could be based on the original CETV. Making a recommendation on the basis of an incorrect CETV is probably not compliant.