Pensions

Enhancing pension contributions for a brighter future 

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New tax year, new you? Maximise your pension savings this new tax year 

As we embark on the new tax year, it presents an opportune moment to review your pension savings strategy, setting a solid foundation for future financial stability. Early attention to your private pension at the onset of the fiscal year is not just about cultivating beneficial saving habits; it’s also about ensuring you fully exploit the benefits and allowances available to you. 

Delaying until the end of the tax year might seem convenient, yet acting early and promptly in this new tax year allows your investments more time to grow. Leveraging the power of compound growth can significantly bolster your pension pot and, by extension, your retirement prospects. 

Maximising your Annual Allowance

The annual pension allowance represents the maximum sum that your employer, you as the individual and any external parties can contribute to all your pension schemes within a tax year without triggering a tax charge. As established last year, this cap is set at £60,000 or 100% of your annual earnings, depending on which is lower. 

For those without earnings, the maximum tax relievable contribution would be £3,600 gross, and for individuals who have commenced withdrawals from their pension funds, they might face the Money Purchase Annual Allowance, lowering their allowance to £10,000. If your financial situation permits, maximising your pension contributions early in the tax year enables you to fully utilise the annual allowance and potentially reduce your tax liability if your earnings are equal to the annual allowance or more. 

Securing extra savings through tax relief 

Tax relief stands as a compelling incentive, rendering pension plans amongst the most tax-efficient vehicles for retirement savings. For the majority of UK taxpayers, this equates to a government top-up of 20% on pension contributions, effectively reducing the cost of a £100 addition to your pension to just £80 from your pocket. 

Higher and additional rate taxpayers may be entitled to further relief, though claims beyond the basic rate require a self-assessment tax return. It’s worth noting that some workplace pensions may apply tax relief differently, such as through salary sacrifice schemes, so it’s advisable to verify the specifics with your employer. 

Leveraging workplace pension schemes 

Workplace pension schemes significantly enhance your ability to save for retirement, with compulsory contributions from both you and your employer. A minimum total contribution of 8% of your qualifying earnings is required, including at least a 3% contribution from your employer. 

Many employers are willing to match your contributions up to a certain level, potentially doubling the investment in your retirement fund. Investigating whether increasing your contributions could lead to higher employer contributions is an astute strategy for maximising your pension growth. 

Leveraging bonus sacrifice for pension enhancement 

In the realm of financial planning, particularly regarding retirement savings, the concept of bonus sacrifice stands out as a strategic manoeuvre. Employees who receive work bonuses have the opportunity to allocate a portion or the entirety of these bonuses directly into their pension schemes. 

Some employers may be willing to match your contributions up to a certain level, potentially doubling the investment in your retirement fund. Investigating whether increasing your contributions could lead to higher employer contributions is an astute strategy for maximising your pension growth. 

Optimising tax-free Personal Allowance 

The tax year 2024/25 offers individuals a tax-free Personal Allowance of £12,570, a crucial figure in personal finance management. However, this allowance decreases by £1 for every £2 of income above £100,000, ultimately disappearing once income surpasses £125,140. 

By strategically contributing to your pension, you can lower your taxable income and potentially reclaim any lost personal allowance. This results in receiving tax relief at an effective marginal rate of 60%, a significant advantage for your pension contributions. 

Securing Child Benefit through pension contributions 

Adjustments announced in the March 2024 Spring Budget have positively impacted the High-Income Child Benefit Charge threshold, now raised to £60,000 from 6 April 2024. With the complete cancellation threshold also increased to £80,000, fewer families will find their Child Benefit reduced or nullified. 

Enhancing pension contributions can effectively diminish taxable income for those with earnings within these brackets, thereby retaining Child Benefit entitlements. Even for earners above £60,000, applying for Child Benefit to accrue National Insurance credits remains beneficial, which is vital for the State Pension. 

 

New Tax year, new you?

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As we embark on the new tax year, it presents an opportune moment to review your pension savings strategy, setting a solid foundation for future financial stability. Early attention to your private pension at the onset of the fiscal year is not just about cultivating beneficial saving habits; it’s also about ensuring you fully exploit the benefits and allowances available to you. 

If you’d like to discuss how you can maximise your pension savings, please get in touch:

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Financial commitments and pension planning

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A Delicate Balance 

Financial commitments and pension planning 

The challenge of managing bills and other financial obligations while simultaneously saving for a pension may seem daunting. However, it is certainly achievable with the right planning and timely action. The sooner you start, the more advantageous it could be if you contribute to a defined contribution pension. 

This is a type of pension where the amount you receive when you retire depends on how much you put in and how much this money grows. Your pension pot is built from your contributions and employer’s contributions (if applicable), plus investment returns and tax relief. 

Here are 6 practical strategies you can consider 

Utilising Salary Increases for Pension Contributions

Let’s begin with a straightforward approach if you find contributing as much as you’d like to your pension challenging. Initially, contribute an amount you can comfortably afford. Then, whenever you receive a salary increase, allocate a portion of it directly into your pension. This method ensures that you do not become accustomed to spending the additional income while still benefiting from the pay rise. 

Maximising Employer Contributions 

Many employers offer to increase their contributions if you decide to increase yours (up to a certain limit). Therefore, by contributing an extra per cent or two of your salary, they might also contribute more. It would be beneficial to inquire about your employer’s pension contribution policy. 

Boosting your Pension with Lump Sum Payments 

If you encounter a windfall, consider making a lump sum payment into your pension. This is a quick and effortless way to enhance your pension fund. As with regular contributions, the government will top up lump sum payments with tax relief (subject to certain limits). 

Delaying Access to Your Pension Pot 

Allowing your pension to remain untouched for an extended period can potentially lead to its growth. Leaving your pension invested for a few more years could make a substantial difference if you’ve had your pension for a while. However, it’s crucial to remember that there’s no guarantee of growth as investments can fluctuate. 

Being Selective with your Investment Choices 

Your investment choices for your pension can significantly influence your returns at retirement. For example, your scheme’s ‘default’ investment option may not be the most suitable for you. Therefore, it’s worth examining the investment funds where your money is placed. 

The process of making changes to your pension will vary depending on the type of scheme you have. With many modern schemes, alterations can be made online with just a few clicks. Check your policy information or speak to your employer for further details.  

Investing more when regular expenditure ends 

A similar strategy can be employed when you’ve completed regular payments. For instance, once a car loan is fully paid off, consider redirecting the freed-up funds into your pension plan. Even modest increases like these can yield significant results over time. Plus, should you need to reduce your outgoings in the future, it’s typically possible to decrease your contributions.

If you’d like to discuss your pensions with a professional Financial Adviser, please get in touch:

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Financial advice when planning retirement

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People who are confident about their retirement are most likely to have specific retirement goals and know what steps they need to take to reach them. But sadly, we see many people do not feel confident that they will have enough savings to live comfortably after they retire.

Many people have a fear of outliving their money, but most don’t have a clear idea of how much money they need during retirement. It’s important to remember that retirement doesn’t happen at a certain age, it happens when you have enough money to live on.

Seeking professional financial advice can help create a clear direction and understanding which will give you peace of mind that you are on the right track.

If you’d like to discuss your retirement, and would like to speak to an expert Financial Adviser, please get in touch:

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Money and Divorce

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Untangling your finances and navigating the financial aspects of divorce

Divorce is a complex process that often comes with various financial considerations, and preparing for a divorce is undoubtedly challenging, especially when it involves untangling your finances. The emotional strain can make it difficult to make clear-headed decisions, and the long-term consequences may not be immediately apparent.

It is crucial to carefully consider the financial aspects of divorce to ensure you can sustain the lifestyle you desire post-separation. It’s desirable to seek legal and financial advice from professionals specialising in divorce cases. Our team is here to assist you in navigating the financial aspects of divorce.

Here are some financial considerations:

Create a list of assets

Create a comprehensive list of all assets, including properties, pensions, investments, businesses you own and other financial accounts. Include accurate valuations, and be sure to note down both joint and individual assets. Additionally, document your income and outgoings, both joint and individual, to clearly understand your financial standing.

This will clarify what needs to be divided and help with accurate valuation.

Budget for the future

Consider your post-divorce financial goals and plan accordingly. Start saving and budgeting in advance to align with the life you envision for yourself after the divorce. Remember that what you desire financially from the divorce may not necessarily align with the outcome. Obtain a copy of your credit report, especially if you anticipate needing a new mortgage or taking on new financial responsibilities. A credit report will provide insight into any joint lending or liabilities you may still be responsible for after the divorce.

Consider the division of your home

There are several options for dividing your home, such as selling it, one partner buying out the other’s share or maintaining joint ownership until certain circumstances arise. It’s important to consider the financial implications of each option. Keeping the home may be challenging, especially if managing mortgage repayments on a single income becomes difficult. Consult a financial professional to assess the financial viability of each option.

Seek advice on splitting pensions

During divorce proceedings, it is essential to consider the division of pension savings, often overlooked in favour of other assets like the family home. Dividing pensions can have long-lasting effects on your financial security.

There are two commonly used methods for dividing pensions during a divorce or separation. Pension sharing involves splitting one or more pensions between the separating partners.

Alternatively, with pension offsetting, the value of the pension rights is balanced against other assets, such as property or savings. This approach allows for a more flexible and customised asset division based on the separating partners’ unique circumstances.

Evaluate savings and investments

The process is usually straightforward when splitting cash savings accounts during a divorce. One partner can transfer money from their account to their ex-spouse’s account. However, if you have Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs), you or your ex-spouse would need to withdraw the money first and then provide it to the other partner. It’s important to note that dividing investments and savings may have tax implications and involve charges. Therefore, seeking professional financial advice is crucial to ensure that the division is done appropriately and is financially beneficial.

Be aware of CGT liabilities

Capital Gains Tax (CGT) may apply when transferring assets during a divorce. As of 6 April 2023, new rules have been implemented that extend the time frame for separating partners to transfer assets without incurring CGT. Under the new rules, you now have up to three years from the end of the tax year in which you separate to make these transfers without facing CGT liabilities.

Do you need professional advice to take the first step towards a secure financial future? We understand the complexities of divorce and finances and are here to help you make informed decisions. Contact us today to discuss your specific needs:

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Navigating the Financial Aspects of Divorce

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We understand the complexities of divorce and finances and are here to help you make informed decisions. If you’d like more information on Pensions and divorce, please download our free guide:

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Understanding Pension Schemes

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Retirement forecasting can be tricky and that’s where the cash flow forecast software comes into its own, helping you visualise your expenditure, income and preferred lifestyle.

Cash flow forecasting is a way of planning and analysing your financial goals, projecting them forwards over time, to consider how changing circumstances will impact this plan and to see how likely it is these financial goals can be achieved and the actions needed to be taken along the way.

If you’d like to know more about cash flow forecasting, or would like to talk to us about retirement planning, please get in touch:

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What are the tax implications when I receive my pension pot?

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As expert Financial Advisors we are here to make the complex straight forward. We work with you to ensure you maximise all tax relief available and to look at all your current and future finances to mitigate a whole range of liabilities including inheritance tax, income tax and capital gains tax.

Ensure your investments are tax efficient

The UK tax system is notoriously complex, but the benefits of structuring your finances tax efficiently can be significant. It is important to keep up with any changes that could affect your tax position now and in the future.

If you’d like to speak to us about tax implications surrounding your pension, please get in touch

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Building A Reliable Income for your Golden Years

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Annuity Shopping

When it comes to using your pension pot, buying an annuity is one option that provides a regular and guaranteed retirement income for either your lifetime or a fixed term. However, it’s important to note that purchasing an annuity is typically an irreversible decision.

Do you know that shopping around for an annuity could earn you £15,000 more over your retirement? Recent analysis has shed light on the benefits of exploring your options regarding annuities. Therefore, it becomes crucial to carefully consider your options, select the appropriate type of annuity and strive to secure the best possible deal.

Valuable tool for retirement planning

Annuities are a valuable tool for retirement planning as they offer a reliable and predictable income stream, often lacking in other investment options. Furthermore, certain annuities can be linked to inflation rates, providing stability during periods of economic volatility. This makes annuities attractive for individuals prioritising risk aversion in their pension savings strategy.

The primary difference between annuities and pension drawdown products is that annuities require using the entire pension pot to purchase an insurance product that provides a fixed retirement income. In contrast, pension drawdown products allow flexible income withdrawals with the remaining funds invested.

Balance security and flexibility

Unlike pension drawdown arrangements, annuities do not typically pass down any remaining funds to beneficiaries after the holder’s death. However, it is possible to balance security and flexibility by partially combining annuities with pension drawdown.

According to the analysis, a 66-year-old with a £100,000 pension pot can now purchase

an annuity with an annual income of £6,790. This represents an increase of £842 compared to the previous year. The surge in interest rates has resulted in the highest demand for annuities in years.

Importance of shopping around

Data further emphasises the importance of shopping around. It has revealed that the difference between the best and worst annuity rates available can be substantial. For a 66-year-old with a £100,000 pension pot, rates can differ by as much as 9.1%, translating to a potential annual income difference of £622 or a staggering £14,928 over the average retirement period.

The recent focus on annuities can be attributed to rising interest rates, which have a tangible impact on the income of those who have already purchased an annuity. However, it is essential to understand that while record rates are advantageous, they should be considered part of a broader discussion.

Looking for a guaranteed income throughout your lifetime?

Annuities continue to be attractive for individuals seeking peace of mind and the assurance of a guaranteed income throughout their lifetime. If you are contemplating an annuity, speak to us and we will explain how to assess all your options. As the research suggests, shopping around is crucial in securing the best possible deal for your retirement income.

If you’d like to discuss your retirement income, please get in touch using the form below:

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Passing on wealth through your pension

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New research reveals that almost a fifth of those aged over 55 (18%) do not plan to access their tax-free pension cash, to enable them to pass on more wealth to loved ones without incurring Inheritance Tax charges. Men are more likely to do this than women, and 38% of workers also plan to leave their tax-free pension cash where it is, three in ten over-55s say they were unaware of this.

If you’d like to discuss how to transfer wealth through your pension, please get in touch:

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