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I'm trying to figure out if someone who has been auto-enrolled in a company pension scheme can change their pension provider.

I opted out of the pension provided by my company because I couldn't afford the deductions at the time, but some of my money was taken and they refuse to give it back. Colleagues have said that you can't transfer it to another provider, which seems strange to me, but looking in to this, I am unable to find a definitive answer. Is there any government literature confirming one way or the other?

This naturally leads on to a further question: What happens if you move to another employer? Are you stuck with the same provider until you retire?

  • When did you actually opt out? Was it within a month of being enrolled? – Ganesh Sittampalam May 6 '15 at 18:06
  • The email I got from HR said: You’ve opted out on 13/05/2014 after this opt out end period (20/04/2014) hence he ceased membership and no refund of contributions are due. – Rumbles May 6 '15 at 18:09
  • So you were enrolled/got the notice of enrollment on 20/03/2014? – Ganesh Sittampalam May 6 '15 at 18:26
  • Actually I got an email on the 3rd of April saying I was being enrolled: You are therefore being enrolled into the company pension scheme on 20/03/2014 (your enrolment date). – Rumbles May 6 '15 at 21:47
  • None of this helps answer the question: Can you change the provider of an auto enrolment pension provided on the government scheme? – Rumbles May 7 '15 at 7:53
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Each company gets to select which pension provider(s) they will deal with. You can certainly ask your company to consider paying into a different pension but you can't force them to.

Many/most companies will say no since they don't want the overhead of dealing with more than one provider, although I did once work for a company that had a policy of paying into whatever pension each employee nominated.

If you move to another employer then you will be auto-enrolled in their choice of provider unless you opt-out.

You may be able to transfer your pension savings from your old employer's scheme to the new one, but this is not currently guaranteed to be possible. If you can't transfer, or choose not to, then the money in your old employer's scheme will stay there being invested according to your choices. Thus over your working life you may accumulate savings in multiple pension schemes (and yes, it's on you to keep track of this).

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