advice on refusal to pay a retirement pension policy when policy matured

My wife took out a private retirement assurance policy in the 1980s.She subsequently stopped payments into her fund but the monies previously paid were left to mature until she was 60 yrs of age and eligible to claim her Pension from this funds assets . The company she took this policy out with was subsequently taken over by a large well known company specialising in purchasing blocks of policies. They notified her of this, that they now owned and and administered the policy and its proceeds,  that it had been invested in a 'property Type A (series 3) Fund', and yearly she received a  'Pension Update document' showing the current value of her 'pension pot' with assumptions of projected extra amounts from the age of 60 years onward (last one received was  February 2020). She did not sign any other or new documents with the company that currently administers and hold her retirement policy, but unfortunately nor can she find her original documents taken out back in the 1980s with the now defunct company. She is now eligible due to her age to claim her now legally matured  retirement policy. This she has tried to do, however the company has informed her that they have subsequently invested her and others pension assets with a particular asset management company. This company has since last November 'Frozen/suspended' all claims on the assets for the time being.  She is therefore not able to claim her pension entitlement even though she is of an age to do so and the policy has reached its minimum maturity date. They could give no details of when 'the assets' would be 'unfrozen', it could be months or longer. They suggested she take this up with the asset company that they had invested with and have tried to 'pass the buck'  .( details provided to us of the asset management company that deal with but were incorrect and enquiries reveal the company quoted were taken over by a major worldwide asset company some years ago). She now finds herself in a position that she has paid into an assurance pension fund and after waiting over 30 years  for her to use it she is being blocked from doing so by the assurers.  A subsequent call to the pensions advisory service revealed that companies are apparently commonly now doing this to stop people taking out monies invested in property funds. They could however offer no further advice other than to complain to the pensions company concerned.  Any advice as to where she stands legally or what we can possibly do would be great. Thanks

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  • ThrugelmirThrugelmir Forumite
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    shooby63 said:
     A subsequent call to the pensions advisory service revealed that companies are apparently commonly now doing this to stop people taking out monies invested in property funds. 
    Did they explain the reasons why investors are unable to access their money?  
    It's not whether you're right or wrong that's important, but how much money you make when you're right and how much you lose when you're wrong." — George Soros
  • PrismPrism Forumite
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    This is entirely normal when invested in property funds and the economy goes through a period of uncertainty. Is this the only 8fund that she is invested in within this policy or are there other funds that are not frozen? This could take quite a while to resolve until we see the full economical impact of this years lockdown. There is nothing you can do to speed this up as it is completely the correct response (freezing the fund) during times like this.
    On a general note, you shouldn't really leave investments like this unmonitored for so long. You are typically able to switch investments that are inappropriate into safer options before you need to access them. This is maybe why you feel that they are passing the buck - because its your responsibility as to where your money is invested. 
  • AlbermarleAlbermarle Forumite
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    Prism said:
    This is entirely normal when invested in property funds and the economy goes through a period of uncertainty. Is this the only 8fund that she is invested in within this policy or are there other funds that are not frozen? This could take quite a while to resolve until we see the full economical impact of this years lockdown. There is nothing you can do to speed this up as it is completely the correct response (freezing the fund) during times like this.
    On a general note, you shouldn't really leave investments like this unmonitored for so long. You are typically able to switch investments that are inappropriate into safer options before you need to access them. This is maybe why you feel that they are passing the buck - because its your responsibility as to where your money is invested. 
    Yes it would be entirely normal , if it had happened due to the Covid crisis. However apparently the assets were frozen in November , so less obvious what has happened.
    To the OP - you ideally need to supply the names of the companies involved to get a better response. There is no problem with naming names on this forum , as long as you do not say anything too libellous !
  • dunstonhdunstonh Forumite
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    . She did not sign any other or new documents with the company that currently administers and hold her retirement policy, but unfortunately nor can she find her original documents taken out back in the 1980s with the now defunct company.

    There is no need to focus on the history.   When pension books are bought, the policies continue as per policy terms.    It is just a logo change in the corner of the letterhead.

    She is now eligible due to her age to claim her now legally matured  retirement policy. 

    As you mention the word "legal", she actually became eligible to take it at 55.   Legacy plans of that era need to be taken by age 75.  So, the age range is 55-75.  It will not mature until age 75.  It is not maturing at 60.

     however the company has informed her that they have subsequently invested her and others pension assets with a particular asset management company.

    That may be your interpretation but in reality, it is the policyholder or their adviser that chooses the investment funds.   Not the pension provider.   The pension provider just acts on the instructions from the policyholder or their adviser.

    A subsequent call to the pensions advisory service revealed that companies are apparently commonly now doing this to stop people taking out monies invested in property funds. 

    Correct.  All bricks and mortar funds are suspended at this time in compliance with FCA rules.

    They could however offer no further advice other than to complain to the pensions company concerned.

    A complaint would be a waste of time.    The investments are not available to draw.  So, no matter how much you complain, the investments will remain unavailable until the suspension has lifted.

    Any advice as to where she stands legally or what we can possibly do would be great. Thanks

    Unfortunately, the time to look at this was around 3-5 years ago.  In the lead up to retirement, you should aim to disinvest any funds which contain illiquid assets.   Typically, you would also look to reduce investment risk if you are buying an annuity.

    The problem you have is that it is too late now.  You have to wait until the fund suspension is lifted.     

    The FCA require funds to suspend if the fund house cannot reliably value at least 80% of their holdings.   As property valuers stopped doing values with lockdown, properties could not be valued and this led to all property funds being suspended.

    It is not known when the funds will raise the suspension.  Some as suggesting it won't be until next year as its not just lockdown that is causing an issue now but also redemptions (people wanting their money out).  That will require property to be sold and commercial, retail and factories are not exactly in high demand right now.  Plus property sales are slow. Especially commercial property.


    Is the pension only made up of property funds? - if yes, then she can forget about looking at this pension probably until next year.   if it is partly property funds then she should ask if they can release the funds that are not suspended.

    Does she have any other pensions?

    I am an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA). The comments I make are just my opinion and are for discussion purposes only. They are not financial advice and you should not treat them as such. If you feel an area discussed may be relevant to you, then please seek advice from an Independent Financial Adviser local to you.
  • PrismPrism Forumite
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    Prism said:
    This is entirely normal when invested in property funds and the economy goes through a period of uncertainty. Is this the only 8fund that she is invested in within this policy or are there other funds that are not frozen? This could take quite a while to resolve until we see the full economical impact of this years lockdown. There is nothing you can do to speed this up as it is completely the correct response (freezing the fund) during times like this.
    On a general note, you shouldn't really leave investments like this unmonitored for so long. You are typically able to switch investments that are inappropriate into safer options before you need to access them. This is maybe why you feel that they are passing the buck - because its your responsibility as to where your money is invested. 
    Yes it would be entirely normal , if it had happened due to the Covid crisis. However apparently the assets were frozen in November , so less obvious what has happened.
    To the OP - you ideally need to supply the names of the companies involved to get a better response. There is no problem with naming names on this forum , as long as you do not say anything too libellous !
    It could be M&G Property portfolio or maybe a fund of funds which has a large allocation to it. That froze late last year when people began to pull their money out of property.
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