PensionBee to float on London Stock Exchange

PensionBee, an online pension provider, has become the latest company to announce plans to float on the London Stock Exchange, with an estimated market value of £350m.

The firm, which helps savers consolidate their old pensions into one new plan, aims to sell shares to institutional investors as well as its 130,000 active customers. It wants to list on the London Stock Exchange’s main market, which requires firms to have a market value of at least £300m at admission.

More than 8,000 customers have registered their interest for the offer so far through investment platform PrimaryBid.

It will be one of a number of London stock market debuts this year, including the meal delivery service Deliveroo, which is gearing up for an £8.8bn float.

PensionBee was founded in 2014 by Romi Savova, the chief executive, and Jonathan Lister Parsons, the chief technology officer, to simplify pension savings in the UK, after Savova left her associate job at Morgan Stanley and ran into problems when she wanted to transfer her work pension using traditional platforms.

“I had multiple bad experiences,” she said. Several pension providers told her to speak to a financial adviser, but no one called her back because, she said, her pension was not big enough, and when she used a fund supermarket, she ended up paying high fees. “It’s complicated. What people need is a simple way to do it online.” Armed with her business plan, Savova met Parsons at a networking event for startups.

Since then, PensionBee has grown to have 403,000 registered customers, up 74% last year, 130,000 of whom are active users, and £1.5bn of assets under administration.

About 60% of the business is owned by management and employees – Savova holds a 44% stake, with Lister holding 7%. PensionBee initially attracted funding from angel investors, and later the US bank State Street, which took a minority holding of under 5% in 2017.

The firm is targeting the estimated 40.8m non-workplace and dormant workplace pension pots in the UK. It estimates each customer has two pots, which means there could be about 20.4 million individuals within this market. It reckons that the defined contribution preserved pension market – pensions to which contributions are no longer being made but that are not paying out yet – is worth £600bn.

A number of small tech firms, such as PensionBee and Penfold, have sprung up in recent years claiming to make it easier for self-employed people to start a pension. PensionBee launched a self-employed pension in January and says customers can manage their pension like they manage their bank account – accessing their balance and making contributions 24/7 via its website or mobile app.

However, these firms’ charges can be higher than those of National Employment Savings Trust (Nest), the government-backed pensions provider, which accepts contributions from £10. It charges an annual management fee of 0.3% of the value of the retirement pot, as well as a contribution charge of 1.8%.

PensionBee charges an annual fee of between 0.5% and 0.95%, depending on the plan.