Why it can help to set a forecast retirement date

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

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Pension and investment advice, Edinburgh IFA

MOST OVER-45S ARE NOT MAKING PLANS TO MATCH THEIR HOPES FOR THE FUTURE, ACCORDING TO RESEARCH FROM STANDARD LIFE. THE VAST MAJORITY (86%) OF THOSE AGED 45 OR OVER ARE ALREADY DREAMING ABOUT ESCAPING THEIR WORKING LIFE FOR RETIREMENT, BUT ONLY 8% OF THE SAME AGE GROUP HAVE RECENTLY CHECKED THE RETIREMENT DATE ON THEIR PENSION PLANS TO MAKE SURE THEY ARE STILL IN LINE WITH THEIR PLANS.

Over half (56%) don’t have a clear idea about when they want to retire, and only one in ten (10%) have worked out how much income they’ll need when they decide to stop working. The study also reveals it doesn’t get much clearer as you go up the generations: less than a fifth (17%) of those aged between 55 and 64 have recently checked to see if the retirement date on their pension policy is still fitting in with their plans.

Setting your retirement date on a pension plan does matter
Some people will have set their retirement date when they were in their 20s or 30s, and a great deal will have changed since then, including their State Pension age and perhaps their career plans. It may seem like a finger in the air guess when you’re younger, but the date that you set for retirement on a pension plan does matter. It will often dictate how your money is being invested and the communications you receive as you get nearer to that date.

Right support, right time
If the date you plan to retire changes or you simply want to take some of your pension without stopping working, it’s important to tell your pension company. Otherwise, you may not receive information and support about your pending retirement at the most helpful times, as they’ll be basing this on your out-of-date plans.

De-risking investments
Some investment options will start to move your pension savings into lower-risk investments as you get closer to retirement. These are called "lifestyled" strategies. If you don’t have the right retirement date on your plan, you could be moving into these investments at the wrong time. For example, if you move into them too early, you could potentially miss out on investment returns that could increase the value of your pension savings. But if you move too late, you could be exposing your life savings to unnecessary risk.

Income for life
If you’re planning to buy an annuity at retirement, which will guarantee you an income for the rest of your life, the amount of income you’ll get will depend on the size of your pot (and annuity rates at that time), your age, your medical history and your lifestyle factors. If you prefer to use your pension savings more flexibly, you can keep your money invested, and take it as and when you need. You’re then responsible for making sure your life savings last as long as you need them to.

Investment pot size
The size of the pension pot you need to build up to maintain your lifestyle when you come to retire will depend on when you plan to do so.

Work longer or retire earlier
Reviewing your retirement date regularly as you get older makes real sense, and most modern pension plans enable you to change and update this date whenever you choose. It needn’t be the same as your State Pension age – you might want to work longer or retire earlier – but can’t normally be before age 55. Some people who plan to slow down or stop work earlier are using money from their private pension savings to bridge the gap until they can start claiming State Pension. All you need to do is inform your pension company of your plans, even if they change again in the future.

Chartered Financial Planners. FCA Regulated (FCA no. 603653)