Grow and protect your pension, both now and in the future
For most, retirement will be funded in the main by a pension. It is therefore vital you have a robust plan in place that will allow you to grow and protect your pension, both now and in the future.
With ever-changing rules and regulations, we now have a pension system that is often difficult to navigate, putting many off using this as a savings vehicle.
When it comes to deciding how to use your pension pot, there’s no one ‘right answer’. The earliest you can start getting a Defined Contribution pension is usually when you’re 55 – you should check this with your pension provider. You might be able to get your pension sooner if you’re retiring due to ill health.
What are your options to consider?
Leave your pension pot untouched for now and take the money later
It’s up to you when you take your money. You might have reached the normal retirement date under the scheme or received a pack from your pension provider, but that doesn’t mean you have to take the money now. If you delay taking your pension until a later date, your pot continues to grow tax-free, potentially providing more income once you access it. If you do not take your money, we can check the investments and charges under the contract.
Receive a guaranteed income (annuity)
You can use your whole pension pot, or part of it, to buy an annuity. It typically gives you a regular and guaranteed income. You can normally withdraw up to a quarter (25%) of your pot as a one-off tax-free lump sum, then convert the rest into an annuity, providing a taxable income for life.
Some older policies may allow you to take more than 25% as tax-free cash. We can review this with your pension provider. There are different lifetime annuity options and features to choose from that affect how much income you would get.
Receive an adjustable income (flexi-access drawdown)
With this option, you can normally take up to 25% (a quarter) of your pension pot, or of the amount you allocate for drawdown, as a tax-free lump sum, then re-invest the rest into funds designed to provide you with a regular taxable income. You set the income you want, though this might be adjusted periodically depending on the performance of your investments. Unlike with a lifetime annuity, your income isn’t guaranteed for life, so you need to manage your investments carefully.
Take cash in lump sums (drawdown)
How much and when you take your money is up to you. You can use your existing pension pot to take cash as and when you need it and leave the rest untouched, where it can continue to grow tax-free. For each cash withdrawal, normally the first 25% (quarter) is tax-free, and the rest counts as taxable income.
There might be charges each time you make a cash withdrawal and/or limits on how many withdrawals you can make each year. With this option, your pension pot isn’t re-invested into new funds specifically chosen to pay you a regular income, and it won’t provide for a dependent after you die. There are also tax implications to consider that we can discuss with you.
Cash in your whole pot in one go
You can do this, but there are certain things you need to think about. There are clear tax implications from withdrawing all of your money from a pension. Taking your whole pot as cash could mean you end up with a large tax bill – for most people, it will be more tax-efficient to use one of the other options. Cashing in your pension pot will not give you a secure retirement income.
Mix your options
You don’t have to choose one option: you can mix them over time or over your total pot when deciding how to access your pension. You can mix and match as you like, and take cash and income at different times to suit your needs. You can also keep saving into a pension if you wish, and get tax relief up to age 75.
Financial situation at retirement
The way you draw an income from your pension is likely to be largely determined by your financial situation at retirement. Will you, for example, still be paying off your mortgage, or do you have any other significant debts? What other income sources, aside from the State Pension, will you have at your disposal?
While an annuity can offer you the security of a guaranteed regular income, a drawdown plan gives you the chance to grow your pension and overall wealth during retirement. The latter route is likely to suit those with a stronger appetite for risk, as any significant market swings could potentially cause serious damage to your pension savings.