Building up a pot of money to provide an income in retirement
With a defined contribution pension, you build up a pot of money that you can then use to provide an income in retirement. Unlike defined benefit schemes, which promise a specific income, the income you might get from a defined contribution scheme depends on factors including the amount you pay in, the fund’s investment performance and the choices you make at retirement.
Paying out a secure income for life which increases each year
A defined benefit pension scheme is one where the amount paid to you is set using a formula based on how many years you’ve worked for your employer and the salary you’ve earned, rather than the value of your investments. If you work or have worked for a large employer or in the public sector, you may have a defined benefit pension.
A personal pension is a type of defined contribution pension. You choose the provider and make arrangements for your contributions to be paid. If you haven’t got a workplace pension, getting a personal pension could be a good way of saving for retirement.
Providing greater flexibility with the investments you can choose
A self-invested personal pension (SIPP) is a pension ‘wrapper’ that holds investments until you retire and start to draw a retirement income. It is a type of personal pension and works in a similar way to a standard personal pension. The main difference is that with a SIPP, you have greater flexibility with the investments you can choose.
By the time we have been working for a decade or two, it is not uncommon to have accumulated multiple pension plans. There’s no wrong time to start thinking about pension consolidation, but you might find yourself thinking about it if you’re starting a new job or nearing retirement.
Under the pension freedoms rules introduced in April 2015, once you reach the age of 55, you can now take your entire pension pot as cash in one go if you wish. However, if you do this, you could end up with a large tax Income Tax bill and run out of money in retirement. It’s essential to obtain professional advice before you make any major decisions about how to access your pension pot.
A regular retirement income for the rest of your life
One way to use your pension pot is to buy an annuity. This gives you a regular retirement income – usually for the rest of your life. In most cases, this is a one-off, irreversible decision, so it’s crucial to choose the right type and get the best deal you can.
Make sure you don’t run out of money or face a reduced standard of living
The start of the tax year on 6 April 2017 saw the launch of the Lifetime ISA (LISA), which was announced in the 2016 Budget. This new type of ISA is designed to help you save for a first home or for your retirement at the same time. To be eligible, you have to be aged between 18 and 39 years old (up until your 40th birthday).
As with any new life stage, planning often helps a smooth transition from the old to the new. Preparing properly for anything new requires planning and commitment. Spending time on planning now will ensure you enjoy the retirement you’ve worked hard to achieve.