Auditing your pension provision is the first step in producing a sound financial plan for your future. It allows you to understand fully how you have got to your current position, how much savings you have built up, how they are structured and what they are likely to be at your retirement date.
You may be thinking about or approaching retirement now and wondering what you are going to live on, or you might be confused about the best way to access money. An audit can help with this.
Once you are fully informed, you can choose the best way to plan for the retirement you want. Whether that is travelling the world, taking up new hobbies or having the ability to give your grandchildren a head start, we’re here to help.
What we find:
- People now tend to have worked for more than one company – so have a number of pension schemes.
- Many people will still have at least one Defined Benefit pension – see below*
- People pay into their employer pension schemes – despite this, they often don’t know how much retirement income it will produce, where the money is invested or what they are paying.
- Self-employed people start a pension, because their accountant tells them to.
- People want to retire or semi-retire earlier but don’t know how to make the most of their savings.
So, if you have some pension plans but don’t really know much about them, what should you do?
Simple – an audit.
*Defined Benefit Pensions
A defined benefit (DB) pension scheme is one where the amount you’re paid is based on how many years you’ve been a member of the employer’s scheme and the salary you’ve earned when you leave or retire.
They pay out a secure income for life which increases each year in line with inflation.
You might have one if you’ve worked for a large employer or in the public sector.
Your employer contributes to the scheme and is responsible for ensuring there’s enough money at the time you retire to pay your pension income.
You can contribute to the scheme too, and, depending on the scheme, this may be a requirement.
They usually continue to pay a pension to your spouse, civil partner, or dependents when you die.
In the 2014 Budget, the Government announced legislation (sometimes referred to as ‘Pension Freedoms’) that came into effect in the 2015/16 tax year. Following these changes, a significant increase in benefits being transferred from employer Defined Benefit/Final Salary Pension Schemes has and is taking place, requiring many to seek regulated financial advice for the first time. Whether this is the right thing to do, or not, will depend on your individual circumstances, but you should always start by assuming that it is not the right thing to do. A good starting point would be to watch the following video produced by MoneyInfo
1. You do the audit.
- If you do the audit, as a minimum you should write to all of the companies who manage your pensions. You should also communicate with the Government to see if you’re going to get a state pension, and if so, how much and when.
- You’ll need membership numbers, your national insurance number, addresses etc.
- You’ll need to know what questions to ask. Here are some of them, but the list is not exhaustive
- How much am I paying in fees? What do I get for my fees?
- Are there penalties for retiring early?
- How can I get advice?
- If I don’t have an adviser, where do I go?
- What funds am I invested in? Are they high or low risk?
- How well are they performing?
- How does the risk I’m taking affect me?
- How big will my fund be when I retire?
- How much income can I take?
- How long will my fund last?
- If I die before I take the fund, what will happen?
- If I don’t have a will, what will happen to the fund?
- If you are lucky enough to have a Defined Benefit pension, then the legislation that introduced “pension freedoms” also recognised the additional complexities and responsibilities such ‘freedoms’ introduced and made it compulsory for anyone looking to transfer what it termed ‘safeguarded’ benefits of more than £30,000, to take regulated financial advice.
2. Or we can do it for you (we do hundreds of audits every year).
- If we do the audit, we’ll take a few details and do all of the research for you. We’ll then present you with some options and you then decide what you want to do (if anything).
- Either call us or mail us and one of our specialists can explain what we need to know.
- Until we’ve done the research for you, our time is on us.