As is fairly common in the UK with small-ish companies, my work has an agreement with a large pension provider to offer personal pensions to all employees. If you choose to open and pay into that personal pension, then the company contributes some money too, matching to a certain level. To reduce the work/admin overhead of this, only one pension provider is supported.

At the time of joining the scheme, I was a bit underwhelmed with the funds on offer, management charges and the like, but since the company contribution is effectively "free money" it wasn't enough to stop me enrolling. Having had some more dealings with the pension provider recently (Aviva, in case anyone wants the name of the guilty), I'm even less impressed with them. (Sending out the wrong forms, giving incorrect instructions, inability to handle basic complaints properly, that sort of thing). Given that, I don't think I want to leave most of the money with that pension provider.

What I can't do is close the pension, as that would stop the money being paid into it from work. What I was therefore thinking was to try to transfer most/all of the current funds into a SIPP with a decent provider. I could leave the current company-provided personal pension to collect future contributions, while having the bulk of the funds held (after transfer) moved into a SIPP.

I've had a look on the website of the personal pension provider about transfers, but all I can see is information on transferring pensions to them, not away from them. That makes me worried that it might not be possible.

Thus the question - can I transfer most/all of the balance from a UK Personal Pension into a UK SIPP with a different provider, whilst leaving the original personal pension open for future contributions?

  • 1
    A lot of that seems to be about people moving from Defined Benefit, Public Sector or similar schemes. Things like SIPPs or Personal Pensions should (in theory) be much simpler, as there's a clearly defined pot of cash (invested) with my name on it. Maybe because it's supposedly simpler, there's a lot less clear information on the transfer rules...
    – Gagravarr
    Dec 17, 2015 at 12:10

2 Answers 2


Yes it's entirely possible; see below. If you can't find anything on transfers out (partial or otherwise) on anyone's site it's because they don't want to give anyone ideas.

I have successfully done exactly what you're proposing earlier this year, transferring most of the value from my employer's group personal pension scheme - also Aviva! - to a much lower-cost SIPP. The lack of any sign of movement by Aviva to post-RDR "clean priced" charge-levels on funds was the final straw for me. My only regret is that I didn't do it sooner! Transfer paperwork was initiated from the SIPP end but I was careful to make clear to HR people and Aviva's rep (or whatever group-scheme/employee benefits middleman organization he was from) that I was not exiting the company scheme and expected my employee and matching employer contributions to continue unchanged (and that I'd not be happy if some admin mess up led to me missing a month's contributions).

There's a bit more on the affair in a thread here. Aviva's rep did seem to need a bit of a prod to finally get it to happen. With hindsight my original hope of an in-specie transfer does seem naive, but the out-of-the-market time was shorter and less scary than anticipated.

Just in case you're unaware of it, Monevator's online broker list is an excellent resource to help decide who you might use for a SIPP; cheapest choice depends on level of funds and what you're likely to hold in it and how often you'll trade.


Just to aid your searching, note that what your employer has provided you with access to is a Group Personal Pension .

Now, as to the question of whether partial transfers from a GPP to a SIPP are possible - the answer would appear to be Probably Yes; however you should contact the pension administrator at your employer (who will be able to give both the employer's and the scheme's points of view), and also the SIPP provider you are considering, to get a definitive answer.

I'm basing this on the results I'm seeing googling for 'partial gpp transfer', eg Partial transfer from group pension possible? and Is it possible to transfer?.

Add to that the fact that one of the largest UK SIPP providers explicitly includes a 'Partial Transfer' checkbox on their pension transfer form.

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