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Pension Options Page

Pension Drawdown

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You can usually choose to take up to 25% of your pension pot as a tax-free lump sum when you move some or all your pension pot into drawdown, from the age of 55.

You will need to carefully consider where to invest the remaining 75% (or less if you have not needed to take the full 25%), taking your likely income needs and attitude to risk into careful consideration.

How does pension drawdown work

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This video highlights the options that you could have at retirement, specifically Pension Drawdown, what it means and the things that you need to consider when planning for your retirement.

The Golden Years?

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Be better off in retirement

Imagine you’re retiring today. Have you thought about how you’re going to financially support yourself, and potentially your family too, with your current pension savings? The run-up to your retirement may feel overwhelming, but this is an important time for you and your savings.

Following the pensions reforms, there are now more options available than ever and this has removed the compulsion to purchase an annuity. It also means that you can use your pension fund to benefit your named beneficiaries, whoever they may be.

Basic retirement lifestyle

If you are approaching retirement it’s time to think about what you’re going to do with the money you’ve been working hard to save all these years. The average UK pension pot after a lifetime of saving stands at £61,897[1]. With current annuity rates, this would buy you an income of only around £3,000 extra per year from age 67, which, added to the maximum State Pension, makes just over £12,000 a year – just enough for a basic retirement lifestyle.

In more recent years, when it’s time to take a retirement income, some people are choosing to do so through pension drawdown. Pension drawdown provides a way to establish a flexible income, set at whatever level you choose, which can be increased or decreased over time to match your needs.

Flexibility and control

For many, this may seem a more fitting solution to their retirement needs than purchasing an annuity, which is a more established option that typically offers a set monthly income for life. However, although pension drawdown offers flexibility and control, there are differences to consider.

While annuity income is fixed for life, pension drawdown can only continue for as long as you have savings remaining – and once they’re gone, you’ll receive nothing. So, it’s important to receive professional financial advice to ensure that you withdraw your money at a rate that will last your expected lifetime.

Will your savings last a lifetime?

It’s important to consider that your retirement could last for 30 years or more, depending on when you retire and how long you live. This is why some people use pension drawdown as the option to provide their retirement income. Your savings remain invested even after you retire, which means they have the opportunity to continue growing through investment returns.

But it’s impossible to predict exactly how much they will grow each year. Some years they will grow more than others, and some years they may fall in value. If your rate of withdrawal exactly matched your growth rate, your savings could last indefinitely. But, because growth is so hard to predict, this is near impossible to do.

How much can you safely withdraw?

A 4% withdrawal rate is typically stated as a guide for how much you can withdraw each year from your retirement savings. This figure is estimated based on the history of the financial markets and how much investments have tended to grow over periods of around 35 years (the expected duration of retirement for someone who retires in their sixties).

So, if you have £500,000 in savings when you retire, 4% would initially equate to £20,000 a year.

However, there are a few additional details that mean this figure can’t be used totally reliably:

  • Past performance of the stock markets cannot reliably predict future growth
  • The performance of investments in your portfolio may be better or worse than average
  • It’s impossible to know for sure how long your retirement will last
  • Your financial needs are likely to change over time, typically peaking in early retirement and then in later life

Changing pensions landscape

So, a 4% rate of withdrawal could be either overly cautious, resulting in the accumulation of wealth that could create an Inheritance Tax
liability, or overly reckless, resulting in complete depletion of your savings when you still have years left to live.

In this world of ours, very little stands still. The same can be said for the pensions landscape. As high earners are faced with even more restrictions and potential pitfalls, it is vital to understand the rules and seek specialist advice. Start talking to us today about your future retirement plans and we can help you make sure it’s a resilient one.

Building a better retirement

If you’re approaching or have already turned 55, you might be wondering what is a good pension pot value to aim for. This will naturally
depend on your circumstances. To discuss your requirements, please contact us.

Options at retirement

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Options at retirement

Annuities – guaranteed income for life

Flexible retirement income – pension drawdown

Uncrystallised Funds Pension Lump Sum

Combination – mix and match

a couple happy at their options at retirement

Pension options at retirement

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a couple happy at their options at retirementWhat can I do with my pension?

Deciding how you want to start taking money.

Due to the changes introduced by the government in April 2015, when you reach the age of 55 (subject to change) you now have more flexibility than ever when it comes to taking money from your pension pot.

But before you do anything with your hard-earned cash, it’s important to take the time to understand your options, as the decisions you make will affect your income in retirement. Before you take money from your pension plan, it’s important to ask yourself if you really need it right away.

When and how you take your money can make a big difference to how much tax you might pay and how long your money will last.

Most pensions will set an age from which you can start taking money from your pension. They will also have rules for when you can
take your pension earlier than normal, for example, if you become seriously ill or unable to work.

When the time comes to start taking money from your pension, you’ll need to decide how you want to do this. If you’ve got a personal
pension or a defined contribution pension, you can take up to 25% of its value as a tax-free lump sum.

The remainder of your pension fund will be taxable and may either be taken as cash, used to buy an annuity (a guaranteed income for a
specific period or for the rest of your life), or you may leave the money invested and take withdrawals on a regular basis or as and when
you need.

With a defined benefits pension, you may be able to take some of its value as a tax-free lump sum, but this will depend on the rules of your scheme. The rest of the money will be paid to you as a guaranteed income for the rest of your life.

Different levels of risk and security and potentially different tax implications

The different ways of taking your money have different levels of risk and security, and potentially different tax implications too. As with all retirement decisions, it’s important to take professional financial advice on what’s best for you.

Everybody’s situation is different, so how you combine the options is up to you.

Annuities – guaranteed income for life

Annuities enable you to exchange your pension pot for a guaranteed income for life. They were once the most common pension option to fund retirement. But changes to the pension freedom rules have given savers increased flexibility.

The amount you will receive depends on a number of factors, for example, how long the insurance company expects you to live and other benefits the annuity provides, such as a guaranteed payment period or payments to a spouse or dependent.

Annuities can also be for a specific period, not just for life. This can be useful if someone wants a guaranteed income for part of their retirement, say before the State Pension is payable.

Flexible retirement income –pension drawdown

When it comes to assessing pension options, flexibility is the main attraction offered by income drawdown, which allow you to access your money while leaving it invested, meaning your funds can continue to grow.

Pension drawdown normally allows you to draw 25% of your pension fund as a tax-free lump-sum, or series of smaller sums. This ‘tax-free cash’ is known as the Pension Commencement Lump Sum, or PCLS. The rest of the fund remains invested and is used to provide you with a taxable income, via withdrawals on a regular basis or as and when you need.

You set the income you want, though this might be adjusted periodically depending on the performance of your investments. You need to manage your investments carefully because, unlike a lifetime annuity, your income isn’t guaranteed for life.

Uncrystallised Funds Pension Lump Sum (UFPLS)

You do not have to draw your pensions commencement lump sum at the outset. Instead you may use your pension fund to take cash as and when you need it and leave the rest untouched where it can continue to grow tax-free.

For each withdrawal, 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.

Combination – mix and match

It may suit you better to use a combination of the options outlined above. You might want to use some of your savings to buy an annuity to cover the essentials (rent, mortgage or household bills), with the rest placed in an income drawdown scheme that allows you to decide how much you wish, and can afford, to withdraw and when.

Alternatively, you might want more flexibility in the early years of retirement, and more security in the later years. If that is the case, this may be a good reason to delay buying an annuity until later.

Want to discuss how to decide what to do with your pension pot?

Find out more about your options for taking an income in retirement and what you need to consider. If you’re unsure about the best approach for you, please get in touch with us for further information.

a lady looking out of a window thinking about pension freedoms

Pension freedoms

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a lady looking out of a window thinking about pension freedomsPension Freedoms – Looking for a wider choice of investment options?

Saving for your retirement is one of the longest and biggest financial commitments you will ever make. Imagine you’re retiring today. Have you thought about how you’re going to financially support yourself (and potentially your family too) with your current pension savings? The pension freedoms introduced in 2015 provide even more of an incentive to look again at your retirement savings.

If appropriate to your particular situation, one option to consider is a Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP), especially if you’re looking for a wider choice of investment options. It’s an option for people who are more comfortable with investment risk and who have more time to regularly review their pension investments to make sure they continue to meet their needs.

Range and flexibility of investment

First introduced in 1989, this structure provides a range and flexibility of investment that makes a SIPP one of the most flexible methods of saving for retirement.

UK residents can invest money into a SIPP up until the age of 75, and start withdrawing money from as early as 55 (57 from 6 April 2028). Tax relief is available on personal contributions up to £3,600 or 100% of relevant UK earnings (whichever is greater), with tax-efficiency also subject to the pension annual allowance, which is £40,000 for most people and applies to contributions from all sources, including employer. Any unused allowance from previous years may mean more than £40,000 can be contributed tax-efficiently.

Saving for a child or grandchild

Parents can also open a Junior SIPP for their children. It may seem a little premature to start putting money into a SIPP for your child or grandchild at birth, but the tax relief that is available on the contributions makes this a particularly attractive way to save for your child’s future. The money is tied up until they reach retirement age, so this money will not be accessed any time soon.

As with all Defined Contribution pension schemes, the amount that you will have available when you retire depends on the contributions that you (and any employers) have made and how your investments perform over time.

Bring everything together in one place

If you’ve got several pensions, it could make sense to bring everything together in one place. Even if the amounts are small, it all adds up. You can transfer most types of pensions to a SIPP and combine them, letting you manage your pension pot in one place. But SIPPs are not suitable for every investor and other types of pensions may be more appropriate. Once in a SIPP wrapper, your savings will grow free from UK Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax.

Just starting your pension journey?

Investing your retirement savings in a SIPP may not be for everyone. If you are not sure which type of pension scheme is best for you, it’s essential you obtain professional financial advice to review your options. To find out more about pension freedoms and to discuss your options – please contact us.

A pension is a long-term investment not normally accessible until age 55 (57 from April 2028). The value of your investments (and any income from them) can go down as well as up which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available. Your pension income could also be affected by the interest rates at the time you take your benefits.
The tax implications of pension withdrawals will be based on your individual circumstances, tax legislation and regulation which are subject to change in the future. You should seek advice to understand your options at retirement.
Accessing pension benefits early may impact on levels of retirement income and your entitlement to certain meanstested benefits and is not suitable for everyone. You should seek advice to understand your options at retirement.