PensionBee Customer Reviews
I had lots of pensions that I wasn't keeping track of. When I saw pensionbee I thought I'd give it a go.
I was surprised with how simple it was to use, and the simplicity of moving all my pensions.
I now have everything in one spot, and I'm able to change how my money is invested.
Simple, easy, clear, trusted.
I've had an excellent experience so far with PensionBee. I had lots of small pension pots and just kept putting off doing anything with them because it all seemed so complicated. About four or five weeks ago, I finally succumbed to PensionBee's emails, registered an account, and then transferred over four pots. This morning I received confirmation that the final pot of the four is to be transferred over. No effort on my part, one place for my pots (makes me feel better seeing a bigger number when you put them in one place!), and an excellent charging structure. Honestly, give them a go. I don't think you'll be dissatisfied!
Hassle free company with ethical pension option's
A game changer
So easy to use, and just what’s needed now
What is PensionBee?
Launched in 2014, PensionBee took personal pensions online. They say they are on a mission to make us all pension confident by making the whole process as easy as possible. You can go online and either set up a new pension or transfer your old pension into it.
You can sign up for free and download an app to your smartphone. You’ll only be charged once you choose a plan. These come in all shapes and sizes including low risk plans for people nearing retirement who want to bank what they’ve got, or higher risk plans for people who hope for higher gains. A selection of ethical and responsible plans allow people to ensure their funds match their ethical or religious beliefs.
The site surged in popularity during the pandemic visitors up by 37% as pensions, like everything else goes online. As of July 2020, it was attracting 400,000 visitors each month.
Investing with PensionBee
Investing is quick and simple. Once you’ve signed up, you’ll be presented with a number of different plans. They come in three different risk levels.
High risk focuses on high risk/return models. Low risk plans focus on established firms with a good financial history and medium risk include their tracker plan which changes the way they invest depending on your age.
If you’re self-employed, there’s also a plan enabling you to contribute as much or as little as you want.
Compared to other providers the process feels much easier and more transparent. There is just one annual fee rather than multiple hidden fees and you can choose from a reasonable selection of funds to suit your tastes. However, others will offer more investment choice.
PensionBee Charges and Fees
Downloading the app is free. You’ll only be charged once you choose a pension plan. These are charged very simply with an annual fee which ranges from 0.5% to 0.95% depending on what plan you choose. This will come out of your pension pot and Drops by half once you’ve saved more than £100,000. The more you save the cheaper it becomes.
The fees are relatively transparent and low cost compared to other providers. Having just one fee ensures you know what you’re paying and how much. It also improves the overall fund performance because less of your pension pot goes to the provider.
PensionBee Pension Plans
Their pension plans are managed by global money managers such as BlackRock, HSBC and Legal & General. Costs vary between 0.5% and 0.95% depending on the plan.
- Tracker plan: Follows the market.
- Tailored: Invests money differently as you move through life.
- Fossil fuel-free: As the name implies the plan avoids toxic industries such as fossil fuels and tobacco.
- 4Plus: Aims for long term growth of 4% year on year above the cash rate by actively managing your money.
- Future world: Invests in companies which pledge to move towards an environmentally friendly future.
- Shariah: Restricts investments to companies which are shariah compliant.
- Preserve: Plays it safe with short term investments in established, credit worthy companies.
- Match: A mix of investments which follow the strategies of the wider pensions market.
- Pre annuity: Invests to provide returns broadly in line with the cost of purchasing an annuity.
These plans provide good value and decent performance, although other companies may offer a greater degree of choice or flexibility.
If you’re uncertain how much you should be saving, the PensionBee calculator can give you some pointers. To use it you set a retirement goal, namely how much you want to have saved by the time you retire, add your details, your savings and contributions to see projected income for any plan.
If you’re still working, therefore, it allows you to plan ahead and work out how much you should set aside each month in order to have a reasonable income when you retire. It sets expectations and help you stay on track to achieve your goals.
PensionBee Tracker Plan
The tracker plan allows you to invest in global stocks, shares and cash. It is managed by State Street Global Advisors and follows the movement of markets. It’s a medium risk option designed for long term growth and lets you diversify your investment away from the general FTSE 500 funds. It’s a nice easy click and forget plan which requires minimal effort from you and benefits from the diversification which comes from the different markets around the world.
You’ll pay an annual fee of 0.5% which will be cut in half once your savings reach over £100,000.
PensionBee Tailored Plan
We all evolve over time and so do our needs from an investment plan. The tailored plan is a medium risk plan which shifts the emphasis of your investments as you hold. Where it invests will vary depending on when you are born. For example, if you’re getting closer to retirement age it might switch investments into lower risk options to reduce the chance of you suffering from a market shock.
It is managed by BlackRock and has an annual fee of 0.70%. This reduces by half once your investments rise over £100,000 so you earn more as you save.
PensionBee Fossil Fuel Free plan
The climate crisis is concentrating everyone’s minds at the moment. Ethical and sustainable investing has gone from a niche part of the market to the mainstream. PensionBee has a number of responsible investment options, and this one is great for anyone who does not want to support industries responsible for polluting the planet.
Managed by Legal & General this plan excludes fossil fuels and tobacco companies in favour of more sustainable companies which are aligned with the goals of the Paris Climate Accords.
It’s a high-risk plan and comes with an annual fee of 0.75% which will be reduced by half for savings over £100,000.
PensionBee Future World Plan
One of the highest risk plans on PensionBee’s books is also one of the most sustainable. Managed by Legal & General it invests in those companies which actively move us towards a low carbon economy. Such companies may be riskier, but they offer the prospect of higher growth as they are more in tune with where the market is heading.
It invests only in equity with almost half of investments taking place in North America. This is a great option from someone who wants to do more than just avoid certain sectors such as fossil fuels, but to support those companies which are building the economy of the future.
The plan is at the top end of the cost spectrum for PensionBee with an annual fee of 0.95%.
PensionBee Sharia Plan
Shariah finance has been gaining in popularity in recent years as a growing Muslim population seeks out investments which are in keeping with their religious values. This plan only invests in Shariah compliant companies which have been approved by an independent Shariah committee.
The plan is positioned as relatively high risk, although there is some evidence to suggest Shariah financial products are less exposed to market shocks than others. It’s a theory which would seem to be supported by the fund’s recent performance. While most returns have dropped off sharply in 2020, its performance has remained fairly strong. It is managed by State Street Global Advisors and costs 0.95%. As with all other plans, the annual fee falls by half once savings reach more than 50%.
PensionBee Preserve Plan
A safety-first option. Managed by State Street Global Advisors, this plan makes short term investments in safe, credit worthy businesses. It’s a great option for someone who wants a low-risk plan although it may also bring lower returns. The plan is invested one hundred percent in fixed income assets which are considered more stable. It is the safest plan you can choose from in the PensionBee portfolio and only invests in firms which are financially sound with a strong track record.
It safeguards your savings against short term market shocks and is a good option if you’re approaching retirement and want to protect your gains.
The annual fee is 0.50%, which drops to 0.25% for savings over £100,000.
PensionBee Match Plan
Want to follow the smart money? Pick the PensionBee Match plan. It follows the strategies of the wider pensions industry and helps you mimic the best strategies currently being used without the need for a degree in finance.
It follows a similar trend in which people are choosing investment options which mirror the choices of professional traders.
Managed by BlackRock, the plan places your funds in a mix of assets based on the distribution of the wider pensions industry. At present, this means it is 63% invested in equity. Each month they adjust the plan so it’s up to date with the latest moves from other fund managers. In theory gives you the benefits of a low-cost passive investment approach with some of the features of active investment.
It comes with an annual fee of 0.60% which drops by half once savings rise over £100,000.
PensionBee Pre-Annuity Plan
The pensions annuity plan allows you to invest in bonds and delivers returns which are broadly in line with the cost of purchasing an annuity. It is managed by State Street Global Advisors and is a good option if you’re considering using your pension pot to purchase an annuity or any other guaranteed income product. This allows you to experience returns that aim to match the cost of purchasing an annuity in the meantime. It is almost totally focused on bonds and charges a 0.70% annual fee which is taken from your pension pot.
This fee is already highly competitive and will reduce by half when your savings grow beyond £100,000.
PensionBee is one of a number of new wave pension providers using the internet to provide a more accessibly and affordable approach to investments. Compared to a traditional fund, such as Hargreaves Lansdown, you can expect lower costs and a simpler process, along with plans which have been shown to perform well on the markets. However, there may be less choice available or ability to manage the fund yourself.
Other internet pensions providers such as Nutmeg or Moneyfarm offer a similar approach. They all base themselves on simplicity and offer an ‘always on’ approach’. However, they differ slightly in form and approach. Nutmeg offers a wider set of services such as ISAs while PensionBee is mainly focused on pension consolidation.
PensionBee 2020 performance
The pandemic has been tough on pensions. Compared to the previous year’s returns are, for the most part way down. The one bright spot is the firm’s Shariah product which returned 23.16% last year, only slightly down from around 28% in 2019. Others have taken a larger hit. The Match plan, for example, is down to 4.29% from 15.82% in 2019. The Preserve plan continued to offer the lowest returns in both years. However, the good news is that the plans have largely matched the wider industry benchmark and can expect reasonable growth after the pandemic.
PensionBee 2019 performance
2019 saw pension funds round the world perform strongly. Each of PensionBee’s funds performed around or slightly above the benchmark. The Shariah fund offered a return of 28.78% mirroring a growing interest in shariah compliant finance, while the future world’s fund also performed well with 20.22%. It suggests responsible investments are already providing short term returns.
Overall, the funds’ close correlation with benchmarks supports the notion that PensionBee offers the prospect of an affordable service alongside a relatively strong and consistent track record of performance.
- Combine all your old pensions into one
- Simple investment choices
- Clear and transparent pricing
- You can only invest in a few funds
- Not as flexible as a SIPP
- Although fees are low they are still slightly higher than competitors
Tom Cropper has been writing for us since 2015. Tom is a financial journalist and his appeared in titles such as the Guardian, Euromoney and many others.
Romi Savova, PensionBee CEO on narrowing the pension advice gap
Interview date: 14th October 2020
A recurring theme when I talk to CEOs and Fund Managers about long-term investing is that to make money most of the time you should do absolutely nothing. That, however, is in stark contrast to the fact that you must do something absolutely immediately, as soon as possible, this instant.
Both are true, you should start investing and saving for your future immediately, and then you should probably do absolutely nothing.
This is one of the frustrations that Romi Savova is trying to solve with PensionBee. She points out, "lethargy will cost you money". The aim of PensionBee is to make taking the first step and getting that first contribution into your pension as quick and simple as possible.
In our interview, we discussed why she set up PensionBee and what we can all do to make more from our pensions.
Why did you set up PensionBee? Was it because of a personal frustration you had with your own pension or did you spot a gap in the market?
I think it’s a bit of a combination of both I would say. The immediate trigger for thinking about pensions was having to move my own pension out of a corporate pension plan, and finding the process incredibly difficult and daunting.
I left my name on several advisor websites and no one called me back for about three years because my pension simply wasn’t big enough. I tried calling pension providers but none of them wanted to talk to me unless I’d had the input of a financial advisor, which I didn’t actually need.
So this chicken and egg problem presented itself and widely within the UK, it’s broadly referred to as the advice gap. The advice gap effectively prevents consumers from doing very simple things with their finances, which in my case was moving my pension from my company plan into a new plan.
Having searched around and having worked in financial services, I came across one of the major platforms, and after filling in many forms and going to the post office several times – something I would definitely not do in the age of the coronavirus – my money made it over and I was presented with a menu of several thousand different investment options. Like most people, I picked a fund that I had heard of and put the money in and promptly, the fund went down and I realised I’d been overcharged.
Separately to that, I had worked in financial services, so I did actually know quite a bit about the market, and the looming problem of automatic enrolment when it comes to pensions, and the frequency of job switching, which means that almost every person will have one or more pensions that they’ve left behind.
So the market opportunity, together with the personal experience, encouraged me to talk to everyone I knew about pensions. I quickly discovered that almost everyone is in exactly the same situation, whereby they have one or more pensions, usually the paperwork is in a drawer, what they are looking for is a simple and easy way to sort it out.
That was really the genesis of PensionBee – an easy way to sort out combining your pensions into one new online plan.
But we’ve expanded beyond that. We’ve grown into a full-fledged online pension provider, meaning you can combine with us, you can add new contributions, you can forecast your retirement outcomes, you can invest responsibly, and then eventually, from the age of 55, you can begin withdrawing. We have customers that are with us from the ages of 18 to 80, depending on what it is they need from their pension at that particular point in time.
What do you think is one of the biggest problems within the pension industry at the moment, and what does PensionBee do to address that issue?
I think the problem overall with pensions and the reason pensions exist is to help us save for later on.
The problem is that people aren’t saving enough. That is really the biggest problem.
Part of the reason that people are not saving enough is because it’s too complicated. It’s really confusing to find a way to get started. Often, here’s heavy paperwork involved in order to do simple transactions.
The pensions industry tends to communicate through very, very thick letters that arrive in your mailbox, hopefully if they have your current address and you haven’t moved house. That level of confusion and paralysis in terms of what to do leads to a lot of inertia and people choosing to do nothing for a long period of time. The golden rule with pensions is that the earlier you start, the better. But, if it’s made so difficult to start and so difficult to get transparency over your money, then inevitably, people wake up to the fact that they need to really save into their pensions in their 40s and 50s, by which point, they’ve missed out on a good 20/30 years of investment growth.
I think that confusion and the complexities that have been introduced around pensions is one of the biggest contributors to the savings deficit that we have in the UK.
What’s been the best part of running the business so far?
I think for me, the biggest satisfaction comes from reading the customer reviews.
Within our company communication system, any time a customer leaves us a review, it’s actually blasted across the company. We benefit from an exceptionally high review rating across all of our platforms, whether it’s Trustpilot or the various app stores or Google Reviews.
For us, receiving the feedback of how we have helped our customers, how we’ve simplified their finances and how we’ve made them pension confident is by far the most rewarding thing, for me or for anyone in the company.
Conversely, when we receive a negative review, it gives us something to think about and something to act on from an improvement standpoint. Those reviews are incredibly important to the way that we manage and run PensionBee.
What part of setting up and founding a business over the five years have you found most challenging?
Running a business is relentless, you need to give it everything that you have and there are no boundaries usually between you and your business.
I think that for most people, that is probably the most challenging thing. It’s also, incredibly rewarding and in some ways addictive because it helps you feel like you’re giving purpose. That’s an amazing feeling. But it can be challenging when it comes to your personal life.
Do you think there’s anything the pensions industry can do more to encourage people to start investing in their pension sooner?
Yes. I think a lot of that transformation will happen through investment transparency and people actually seeing what they’re invested in.
Normally, when you invest in a pension, it’s very difficult to know where your money has actually gone. Typically, you need to open several spreadsheets, you need to download a couple of PDFs. Even if you do that, it’s very difficult to actually track your money through to the ultimate companies that you’re invested in.
I think bringing that transparency into the hands of consumer and showing them that the typical pension is invested in the hundred largest companies in the world. Therefore, your pension is invested in Apple and Google and Microsoft, and other companies that people relate to. I think that that will encourage people to think about pensions as investments because you’re giving them the transparency that they are already invested and you’re giving them familiarity with the investments that they hold.
I think that we’re actually quite a faraway away from that in the pension sector in particular because most pensions are actually invested in tracker funds. Those tracker funds are then invested in other tracker funds. So there are levels of investment that occur but we for certain are making progress in terms of making all of that information visible to our customers. I think it will be revolutionary when you’re able to see exactly what your pension is going into.
Are you seeing a big shift in interest in ESG, sustainable and impact investing through PensionBee?
I think that there are several different ways to do ESG and responsible investing right.
We’ve spent a lot of time looking at what the mainstream view is around ethical investing or responsible investing or whatever it is that you want to call it. The majority of people actually have strong views that they do not want their money invested in companies that they think are damaging to society, whether that’s damage to our health or damage to the environment. That is actually a majority-held view.
That however is different to wanting their money to be invested in companies that have been created specifically to make an impact. I think that is different.
While we do have some requests to see money invested in impact-led companies, I would say that that is a view that is still emerging and growing, and perhaps one that will become more common as the certification process around what it means to be an impact-driven company becomes clearer.
I would say certainly, there is a huge appetite to be investing in companies that are not doing harm, which is different. For consumers and for the asset management industry, this is going to be a huge transition into different types of investments, because as we bring that investment transparency to the forefront of consumers’ minds, they’re going to start expressing their preferences in terms of what they want their money to go in.
That is a good thing but it can also be something to be slightly cautious about, because oftentimes, companies that are impact investing may not necessarily be appropriate pension investments. For the pensions industry I think it’s really important that you do maintain exposure to sufficiently liquid investments and investments that are widely traded, which has certainly been our investment view.
Where do see PensionBee fitting in within the investment landscape or traditional pension providers and digital robo-advisors?
We’re obviously very different from Hargreaves Lansdown in that first of all, we’re really simple and easy to use. We are exclusively online and we have a fund offering that I think is curated and manageable, whereas I think one of the primary distinguishing factors about the fund supermarket is that they are supermarkets and they offer several thousand different options for people to invest in.
I think that tends to attract the type of customer who is very interested in choosing between thousands of different funds, whereas we tend to focus on, people who are not necessarily personal finance and investment experts, but who want a pension solution that they are comfortable and happy with, and that they find very easy to use. Our own research indicates that that is actually the vast majority of people in the country. So we bring good value solutions to our customers and we make it easy for them to get those.
We’re different from robo-advisors in that we don’t manage money. The vast majority of robo-advisors that I’ve come across have their own asset management strategy. We’ve taken the view that asset management can be performed by some of the world’s biggest money managers. Especially when it comes to pensions, which is a very long-term investment.
We feel very comfortable and very proud to be working with the world’s largest asset managers, who between them have decades of experience managing money and trillions of pounds of investments already managed on behalf of companies like us, our customers, and in fact, the whole world.
I think that is a really important distinguishing point with pensions because it is such a long-term investment that you entrust your pension company with.
How do your fees compare to other digital pension providers
Our fees range from 0.5% to 0.95%, depending on the plan that you’ve chosen.
Generally, the plan pricing depends on the level of investment complexity involved within the product. You would expect to pay differently for something that has a more active management approach to it, versus something that has a very passive and static approach to it. For us, on any portion of your money over £100,000, you actually pay half the price.
The more you save, the less you pay when it comes to PensionBee.
Is there a book you can recommend that’s helped you personally get more out of your money?
I don’t have a single book that I would recommend. I would say I’m a pretty avid reader of the consumer finance pages in virtually all of the nationals.
I think it’s really about staying up to date and staying current with what is going on in the broader world and how it impacts your investments. I think that there are probably a couple of staple books that people can try.
One good one that comes to mind for younger women, in particular, would be You’re Not Broke You’re Pre-Rich, which I think has had a lot of impact.
Then more recently, Mrs Mummypenny, who you may have come across, has written an excellent book on The Money Guide to Transform Your Life, and that has a very holistic approach to the overall management of your money, which I think is important for people.
If you could give one piece of advice personally to anybody who is starting their investing or saving journey, what would it be?
My biggest piece of advice is to make savings a habit
The earlier you start and the more regularly you do it, the better outcomes you will have over the long term. That’s really what it is about. It is a long-term investment and it is a long-term behavioural approach to leading your life. I think that there’s a lot of cause for optimism and we find 18-year-olds and 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds who have already established the habit of saving.
I think if there’s anything you can teach yourself to do, it’s absolutely that one, and future you will obviously thank you.
Romina Savova is Founder & CEO at PensionBee
Richard founded the Good Money Guide (previously Good Broker Guide) in 2015 and has been a broker for 20 years most recently at Investors Intelligence and previously a multi-asset derivatives broker at MF Global (Man Financial). Richard started his career working as a private client stockbroker at Walker Crips and Phillip Securities (now King and Shaxson) after interning on the NYMEX oil trading floor in New York and London IPE in 2001 & 2000.
Is Pensionbee any good?
Yes. PensionBee offers an affordable, and accessible pensions service. A single annual fee means there is no need to worry about multiple hidden fees and leaves more from your pot for you. It’s great for someone who wants a reasonably performing fund at a good price.
What is PensionBee?
PensionBee is an online pension provider. It offers a selection of pensions catering to different interests, requirements and appetite for risk. It’s a simple, affordable way to consolidate other pensions and manage your plans.
Is PensionBee a SIPP?
No. All pensions are managed by global advisors such as State Street Global, HSBC and Legal & General. You can, however, choose different pensions. You can compare SIPP providers here
Can you set up a new pension with PensionBee?
Yes, starting a pension is quick and simple. You can download the app, sign up and select a plan. The annual fee comes from your pension pot.
Can I transfer my current pension to PensionBee?
Yes, PensionBee makes it easy to transfer your existing pension into a new account. It’s a great way to combine multiple pensions into one place.
Is PensionBee safe?
PensionBee is protected by the financial services compensation scheme. However, as with all investments your capital is at risk.
Who owns PensionBee?
PensionBee was founded by Romi Savova in 2014 after formerly working at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.
How does PensionBee work?
PensionBee works with a simple sign up. You can download an app, choose a plan and manage your plans from any device.
How much does PensionBee cost?
You’ll pay a single annual fee of between 0.50% and 0.95% depending on which plan you choose.
Latest PensionBee News
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- 12th December 2020 Tom CropperPensionBee’s new pension plan will be full of sugar and spice and all things nice – without dirty investments such as fossil fuels, arms, tobacco and other controversial sectors. When PensionBee announced plans to launch [...]