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Retirement Pension - A Start



Welcome and thank you for visiting our Pensions and Retirement Section. Here we have provided you with knowledge and information relating to Planning for Retirement. We hope you find these informations usefull and be able to find what you are looking for. On left you will be able to navigate for your needs, be it car insurance or home insurance or mortgages etc. Please take your time to explore.

In the present scenario, an average life expectancy for a man is 76 and that for a woman is 80. This means your retirement can last for 20 or 30 years and you could be living on your retirement income for many years. The basic state pension can be a start, but this would not be enough to maintain and enjoy the standard of living you are accustomed to. Let us look at how to start and boost your pension. 

Get a pension forecast 

First you need to find out how much your state pension is likely to be when you retire. Get a state pension forecast. This tells you in today's money the state pension you have already earned and what you can expect to have earned by the time you come to take your pension. You can obtain the forecast report from the Pension Services or call 0845 300 0168. 

Get Moving Now 

The earlier you begin paying into a pension scheme, the better. Money put into a pension scheme in your 20s will have 40+ years to grow, which means a bigger Fund Value when you reach 65, and therefore a more handsome pension. A rough rule of thumb if you're just starting to save for your pension now is that you should halve your age and contribute that as a percentage of your salary throughout your working life. So, if you are 30, you should be saving 15%. The older you are when you start, the higher the percentage you will want to contribute. To find out exactly how much you would have to pay each month to reach your target pension, you can use an online pensions calculator

Preparations 

Before you choose a pension scheme, you should try to work out the amount of money you'll need in order to live comfortably in retirement. It's likely that major outgoings such as your mortgage will have been paid off, but you'll need to take the following into account: 

  •  The age at which you intend to retire. The lower the age, the higher the pension you'll need 
  •  How much state pension you're likely to receive 
  •  Your basic living expenses 
  •  Whether you have children or other dependants 
  •  Your lifestyle, including travel and hobbies
  •  Where you want to live 
  •  Any other assets you have such as savings, investments and property 

You should also take inflation into account. If you assume prices are rising by about 2.5% a year on average, then a 40-year-old aiming to retire on a pension of £20,000 in today's money is likely to need as much as £40,000.


The State Pension - You cannot depend on it!
 



When you retire at age 65, the state pension alone would not be sufficient in order to maintain your current lifestyle. The basic state pension is £87.30 a week (2007-8), but how much you actually get will depend your National Insurance contributions that you have contributed throughout your working life.
For a full pension, a woman must have paid contributions for 39 years and a man 44 years. By 2020, the Government plans to set the retirement age for men and women at 65, in which case both will have to have made contributions for 44 years. You can build up an additional state pension or state second pension based on your earnings during your working life. This is not available if you are self-employed or unemployed, though there are exceptions for carers and people who cannot work due to disability or illness. You need to bear in mind that governments can change the legislations for State Pensions and benefits at any time. Therefore, it may be unwise to rely on on it!

Private Pension 

The most clear way of supplementing your state pension is by setting up a private pension. Should your employer be offering an occupational scheme, you should join. These days occupational schemes are becoming less common and also less generous, however, it's still worth joining, as your employer may also make contributions. If you do decide to open a private pension plan, you pay into a pension fund which, when you retire, is used to buy an annuity or pension for life. The value of the pension will depend on 

  • The amount and level of your contributions 
  • Charges imposed 
  • The fund perfomance over the years 
  • The available annuity rates when you retire. 

Payments into personal pensions also earn tax relief. The stakeholder pension is the most straightforward private pension plan. It has to meet strict Government standards and maintain low charges. You can pay in small amounts as and when you want, without penalty, and you can also transfer to another provider without penalty. Stakeholder pensions are ideal for moderate earners or if you have irregular income but can afford to save.

Retirement Age - How is your Private Pension Paid

When you retire, if you have a personal or stakeholder pension, then you have to convert at least 75% of your pension fund into an income. To do this, you must buy an annuity, which is an investment that pays you a regular income for life. You can take the rest as a tax-free lump sum. Annuity rates have plunged in recent years and once you start receiving income from the annuity you are stuck with it, so choosing the right one is an important decision. It's vital to shop around and compare rates. 

Any other choices? 

Pensions aren not the only way to save for your retirement. There are other means, i.e Individual Savings Account (ISA), buying shares, saving in other investments such as bonds, putting money into property, comodity, etc.


Comparing Pensions



Most of us are worried about the future value of state pension and work pensions and are thinking about joining a private pension scheme. If you are one of those, spare some time to check out your options outline below.

Know your goals
Start by working out what pension(s) you're already in (if any), and what they are likely to be worth to you when you retire. These may be illustrated on statements that providers send you annually. Have a think about the sort of retirement income you think you'll need, and how much you can afford to save each month. You may want to talk through the issues around private pensions with an independent financial adviser, ideally one who specialises in personal pension planning.

The basics
With a private pension, you usually pay either a regular monthly amount or a lump sum to a pension provider who invests it in a fund on your behalf. You can buy a private pension plan from major reputable Insurance companies though these days other financial institutions like Building Societies and Banks offer them. The final value of your pension fund will depend on how much you have contributed and how well the fund's underlying investments have performed. Saving in a private pension plan is tax-efficient. Money is paid in before income tax is deducted, so at current rates every £100 invested costs you £78 if you're a basic rate taxpayer and £60 if you pay tax at the higher rate


Know the difference
There are two main types of private pension:
  •  Personal
  •  Stakeholder
The main difference is that with stakeholder pensions the charges are limited and you can transfer investments between funds and providers. However, the choice of investments tends to be narrower, though this is now changing. Personal pensions offer a wider range of funds in which to invest but the charges could be higher.

Choose the Best
There is a vast range of personal and stakeholder pension plan providers and there are hundreds of individual plans to choose from.
Most plans offer a choice of funds to invest in, which are primarily stocks and shares based. The value of your pension fund can rise as well as fall in line with the value of the type of investments. You can choose your own investments.
Managed fund is most common that most people opt for or Investment Funds or with-profits plans. With managed funds, fund managers choose investments that in their opinion will perform best and switch them as market conditions change. With Investment Funds (also termed as unit-linked), you share in the performance of a fund of underlying investments. With With-Profits funds, mostly offered by Life Insurance companies who invest your contributions in stocks, shares and gilt-edged securities etc. Your investment grows as the company adds yearly bonuses and once these bonuses are added to your fund, usually they are not taken away. These bonuses are declared after deducting life office's expenses. They offer terminal bonuses on maturity which are not guaranteed.

Which fund you choose will largely depend on your attitude to risk - the higher the risk, the higher the likely return - or loss! But you can also choose to invest only in ethical funds that screen out companies that don't behave in a socially responsible way. If you don't want to make the decision yourself, many pension providers can choose a fund for you, depending on your level of risk, age and other key factors. Remember:- When choosing a pension fund, past performance is not a guide to future performance.

The charges
Pension providers charge you for starting up and running your pension. These charges are normally deducted from your fund. The charges for stakeholder pensions are fixed at a maximum of 1.5% of the fund each year, falling to one per cent after 10 years. Although many personal pensions have reduced their charges in line with stakeholder pensions, it's important to check at the outset, as charges can take a sizeable chunk out of your pension fund over the years.

Penalties and restrictions
If you stop working for a while or take a cut in income then it's useful to be able to suspend payments for a while, or reduce them, without penalty. Check too whether there are any restrictions or penalties if you want to transfer your funds.

Your employer's pension scheme
Occupational pension schemes are generally a good deal; not only does your employer make contributions into the scheme but often they pay the management fees too. Your contributions to your occupational pension scheme are deducted from your earnings before income tax is worked out. This means you automatically get tax relief up to your highest tax rate through the PAYE system. With an occupational pension scheme you can top up your benefits by making additional voluntary contributions (AVCs) and still get tax relief on them. Ask your company about its AVC scheme, or look into paying freestanding AVCs (FSAVCs) into a private pension plan.

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