Aug 18, 2021 | International Payments

A Guide to Enhancing your Pensioners’ Experience

As British citizens continue to retire abroad, it’s more important than ever for pension funds to ensure they have the right elements in place to deliver international pension payments.

Pensioner sat smiling on a bench


There is a long tradition of UK citizens retiring to countries with warmer climates. Although Brexit has meant that UK pensioners now have to apply for residency to live in the EU after retirement, there are still large numbers of British pensioners settled in both Europe and the rest of the world. The current rules say that if you qualify for a British state pension, you can claim this wherever you might be, and this has enabled thousands to follow their dreams, and the sunshine, in their later years.

Pension Funds and Administrators face the challenge of getting payments out to pensioners around the world and ensuring that these are both timely and accurate. Any errors or shortfalls can make a big difference for the recipients, who rely on their pensions as their main or only source of income.

Small fees make a big impact

One instance of a change having a huge impact on pensioners happened in 2018. The Irish government moved its banking from the Bank of Ireland to Danske Bank, and whereas the Bank of Ireland didn’t charge for sending international payments, Danske Bank did – and these charges were passed on to the pensioners. More than two million pensioners in the US and Canada found that fees were being taken from each payment they received1.

One way to ensure your members avoid unwanted surprises like this, and to protect their loyalty, is by partnering with a global payments expert so you can have one central payments platform.

What to look for in a payments partner

Your business reputation can be badly affected if your members don’t receive their payments on time. A good payments provider will have a global banking network to streamline payment processes. Funds will pass through fewer intermediaries, ensuring efficiency and accuracy. A partner with specialist payments expertise will also help you in other ways.

Compliance and fraud prevention

Sending payments to members in multiple overseas locations means that you need to meet local regulations in each country. Compliance can be a major headache, with each country requiring different information to be submitted, in a specific format and with its own deadlines. This can be a time-consuming and complicated task for your organisation. Your partner’s International Pensions expert should be able to help you design an individual solution for your organisation, which keeps you up-to-date with ever-changing payment requirements, in-country holidays and local processing times.

Fraud is another potential problem when you are making payments. You will need to minimise your exposure to fraud through mitigating the risk of overpaying non-entitled beneficiaries and increasing identity compliance. At Western Union Business Solutions for example, our unique Global Existence Solution can verify your international members’ identities face-to-face, at hundreds of thousands of WU® Agent locations across the globe.

Knowledge and expertise

A good global payments provider will have a dedicated team of experts to give you peace of mind that payments will reach the correct recipient on time and in full. You should have a dedicated contact who will help advise on how to mitigate foreign exchange exposure and avoid unnecessary cross-border fees. Every pension provider will have a unique portfolio of members, and very different needs. Any payments strategy will need to be tailored to your specific circumstances, and help you to meet your business goals.

Online platform

You should have all your payments information at your fingertips, through an integrated online platform. Your members will be able to access information about their payments in real time, avoiding the need to contact you with queries, and you will benefit from the streamlining of your transactions, which will reduce the time spent on administration.

By centralizing your payments, you will also avoid interbank costs and unexpected cross-border fees, and your members will be able to receive payments in their chosen currency. A good online platform will also reduce the number of manual processes involved, with a subsequent reduction in errors. Which is good news for you and your members.

All in all, you will have peace of mind working with a trusted partner who is committed to compliance and experienced in international payments across the globe. In a post-pandemic world, where uncertainty is all around us, it is good to know there is one thing you can rely on.

Western Union Business Solutions

At Western Union Business Solutions, we are trusted by more than 60,000 organisations to move money around the world. We have an extensive global network, spanning 200 territories and 130 currencies, and an in-depth knowledge of local markets and compliance.

If you are looking for world-class cross-border payments services, or counsel on international pensions, please contact us We’ll be more than happy to talk about how we can help you manage your international transactions.

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