Pension Options Page

Enhancing retirement through lump sum contributions

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Contributing additional amounts to your pension stands to benefit you significantly in the long term

Recent research findings have brought to light a striking observation: fewer than 10% of adults in the UK contribute occasional lump sums to their pensions. This statistic is particularly surprising given that such contributions could significantly amplify one’s retirement savings.

Analysis reveals that even modest lump sum investments can significantly increase the overall size of one’s pension pot due to the power of compound growth over time. For example, starting with an annual salary of £25,000 and contributing the auto-enrolment minimum (5% from the employee and 3% from the employer) from age 22 could lead to a retirement fund of around £434,000 by 66.

Yet, by adding nine lump sum payments of £500 every five years from age 25 to 65, you could enhance your retirement savings by an additional £11,000. Those capable of making heftier contributions, such as £5,000 every five years, could see their pension pot grow to £549,000, which is £115,000 more than without any lump sum additions, not accounting for inflation.

Value of forward-thinking financial decisions

Encountering unexpected financial windfalls, whether through bonuses, gifts or other means, often tempts immediate expenditure. Currently, many are directing these extra funds towards managing monthly expenses. However, those who are financially able to contribute additional amounts to their pension stand to benefit significantly in the long term.

Pensions offer tax efficiency and the potential to outpace both inflation and interest rates on savings accounts, making them a wise choice for securing one’s financial future. With the end of the fiscal year having passed, and with it the expectation of annual bonuses for many, allocating a portion of this windfall towards a pension could substantially impact your retirement lifestyle.

Role of employers and providers in future planning

Employers and pension providers play a crucial role in educating individuals about the importance of long-term financial planning. It is essential to illustrate how pensions fit within a broader financial context, ensuring individuals perceive retirement savings as a key component of their overall financial strategy.

These efforts can empower individuals with the knowledge and resources needed to make informed decisions about their financial future, fostering a proactive engagement and planning culture.

If you’d like to discuss your financial future, please get in touch with us:

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Source data:

[1] Boxclever conducted research for Standard Life among 6,350 UK adults. Fieldwork was conducted 26 July–9 August 2023. Data was weighted post-fieldwork to ensure the data remained nationally representative on key demographics.

[2] Calculations assume the following: Starting salary £25,000 – Employer contributions 3.00% – Employee contributions 5.00% – Investment growth 5.00% – Salary growth 3.50% – Annual investment costs 1.00%

 

Free Guide: Enhancing Pension Contributions

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Planning for your retirement is one of the most important financial decisions you will make and no matter what your age or how far away from retirement you are, putting savings plans in place as early as possible to maximise your pension pot is vital.

We have produced a free Guide to Enhancing Pension Contributions for a Brighter Future to help you decide how to maximise your pension savings :

Please fill in your details to get your free guide:

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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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Ellis Bates may use these details to contact you about our products and services. You can unsubscribe from these communications at any time. For more information, check out our Privacy Policy (www.ellisbates.com/privacy-policy/).

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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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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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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Will you make the right decisions around your pension pot?

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Will you make the right decisions around your pension pot?

The announcement of the removal of the Lifetime Allowance (LTA) from the 2024/25 tax year in the Spring Budget 2023 has made defined contribution pensions even more appealing for wealth transfer. This benefits individuals over 55 who intend to leave their tax-free lump sum intact with their pension to maximise their benefits.

There may be further changes to pension allowance rules. However, removing the LTA charge allows for an unlimited sum tax-free for individuals who pass away before age 75. After the age of 75, the sum will be subject to taxation at the beneficiary’s marginal rate. It is important to note that although the charge has been removed, an LTA check still takes place to work out available tax free cash and the taxation of certain lump sum payments.

Without incurring Inheritance (IHT) Tax

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.

Pensions usually don’t count towards a person’s estate for IHT purposes, and can be passed on completely tax-free if someone dies before the age of 75. With no LTA charge and an increased annual pension allowance, pensions have become attractive for those looking to mitigate IHT.

Pension as a tax-free lump sum

The research also found that almost half of all consumers (46%) believe that the amount that can be taken out of a pension as a tax-free lump sum should increase in line with inflation. It is worth noting that since the LTA has been abolished, an LTA check still takes place to work out available tax free cash and the taxation of certain lump sum payments. This means that individuals are currently limited to withdrawing a maximum of 25% of the previous LTA as a tax-free lump sum from their pension, unless any protection is in place.

Tips to ensure your beneficiaries benefit from your pension:

  • Check if your pension offers death benefits: Not all pensions provide the same level of flexibility when it comes to death benefits.
  • Check with your provider to see if your pension plan allows you to nominate beneficiaries who will inherit your pension savings, as beneficiary drawdown may not be an option.
  • Specify your beneficiaries: While making a Will can be beneficial in many ways, it usually doesn’t control who inherits your pension savings. Your pension provider or trustees have the final say in where your pension savings go.
  • Name your beneficiaries directly with your pension provider or employer to ensure your wishes are considered.
  • Regularly review your beneficiaries: Life circumstances change, and reviewing and updating your beneficiaries as needed is essential. Major life events like the birth of children, marriages or divorces can impact who you want to receive your pension savings. Ultimately the trustees of a scheme have discretion. So although there are no guarantees, by keeping your beneficiaries up to date, you can ensure that your desired
  • Beneficiaries are considered first when it comes to your pension savings should you pass away.
  • Consider the tax implications: Pensions can be a tax-efficient way to pass on your wealth since they are not typically subject to
  • Inheritance Tax. With the removal of the lifetime allowance charge, pensions offer an even more attractive option for passing on your wealth to your loved ones. However, it’s essential to consider any potential tax liabilities your beneficiaries may face when receiving your pension funds.

Remember, seeking professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances regarding financial planning and pension matters is essential.

Do you want to discuss creating a retirement plan to give you the confidence to enjoy later life?

Retirement should be the golden age of your life. It’s when you finally relax, enjoy new hobbies, travel or spend time with loved ones. But retirement can only be fully enjoyed if you have financial freedom. To discuss your options or to find out more, please get in touch with us using the form below:

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*Opinium conducted research for Standard Life among 2000 UK adults, aged 18+ between 12-16th May 2023, results weighted to nationally representative.