Gosh, this is tricky subject and there is soooo much information out there it is easy to become confused and SCAMMED (so be careful who you share your information with)
Years back it was much simpler – occupational and/or private schemes seemed to stick to what you agreed with from the start – and you received your state pension at 60/65 (gender and date of birth dependant), although don’t start me on changes to the age at which you receive your state pension and how many years in advance you were informed of the change. Women especially have been affected by this and it has made a difference to many plans and incomes.
I do agree, that as we are generally living longer and healthier, it makes sense to work longer. It is just the process seemed to come around very quickly – and the dates changed regularly making planning difficult. I, myself, was informed of 3 dates and each was further in the distance. Anyhow I digress.
Back to pensions. As you will be aware the changes to how you access your private pension schemes has changed. These changes may or may not impact on how you access your occupational pension – for many this is still only accessible as a regular ‘income’ monthly/weekly as is the State Pension.
The need for a decision is in relation to many private pension schemes as you can access this in many ways – from all at once to retaining a monthly sum as income. Oh, what to do? And how to do it in the most tax efficient way.
I am not a pensions advisor nor a financial expert so can only share my experience and what sources of information I discovered.
I have a small private pension into which I have contributed a small monthly amount over the decades. Commenced when the children were young, and I was aware that working part-time would impact on my occupational pension. The monthly ‘income’ amount quoted is very small and thanks to the changes I can consider accessing it in a variety of ways that suit my circumstances.
So first, to understand the options.
As always, my first stop was Google, as you would image there are many links to ‘pensions advice and retirement’. From large nationally recognised insurance companies to firms I had never heard of but being ever cautious I went initially to the government site which explains the State Pension, is easy to read and appears to be updated regularly. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/your-new-state-pension-explained/your-state-pension-explained
For information relating to your occupational pension it is best to discuss this with your employing organisational. Although the following sites also gives some clear guidance.
So back to private pensions. You may have an independent financial advisor and if so that is obviously the person to contact. I am guessing that there is already a relationship of trust there and, even if you also consult other avenues, it is a good place to start. If not, then the company who hold your pension savings is a must. The independent companies selling and supporting private pension schemes have had to change how they handle business in relation to the change in laws so should have both up-to-date guidance and impartial advice.
I contacted my Pension company once I was approaching my retirement date to discuss my options, complete required forms etc.
The first thing I was instructed to do was make an appointment with Pension Wise – a free government advice service www.pensionwise.gov.uk
The meeting can be face-to-face or using the telephone. As I prefer communicating face to face with people I have never met that is what I selected and found it very worthwhile. How to make contact and arrange appointments are on their website (link above).
Alongside discussing my specific options the Adviser also worked through all other options so I felt that if I had had any doubts previously I would have left more informed and with guidance as to where to go next. By the time I arrived home an email with a link to a summary of the meeting and links for further advice was already in my Inbox.
Of specific note was to check policies for any special features and fees that the pension plan may have in the small print – these can sometimes limit the options available.
The following links are ones highlighted to me and may be of assistance when considering options:
https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/categories/getting-advice-about-retirement – many pages on various topics around retirement and how to source financial advice
https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/introducing-a-pensions-advice-allowance/introducing-a-pensions-advice-allowance-consultation – details about the ‘pensions advice allowance’, which I had never heard of. Allows a sum to be taken from tax-free sum to use for funding cost of financial adviser.
https://www.fca.org.uk/ – amongst other advice this site has a list of known SCAMs
www.unbiased.co.uk – how to locate a local finance adviser in your area
A brief overview of what advice pathways are available to use when considering your options – hope it helped.
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