Retirement Income Planning FAQs

My pension fund has fallen in value recently, will this affect my retirement?

This depends on when you are planning to retire and how you will use your pension to fund your retirement income.  If you are retiring within the next 6 -12 months, you may find that you get less income than you expected.  If you are further away from retirement, your pension may have time to recover any losses.  There are other factors that affect the income you can get at retirement and many options available as to how income is taken.

My pension fund has fallen in value recently, will this affect my retirement?

This depends on when you are planning to retire and how you will use your pension to fund your retirement income.  If you are retiring within the next 6 -12 months, you may find that you get less income than you expected.  If you are further away from retirement, your pension may have time to recover any losses.  There are other factors that affect the income you can get at retirement and many options available as to how income is taken.

Should I stop paying into my pension?

If you can afford to keep paying into your pension, it could be beneficial to continue throughout an investment downturn.  Not only will you benefit from the valuable tax relief available, you could be buying investments at a lower price than they were a few months ago which means you can buy more of them. 

I have reached my scheme’s retirement age, should I withdraw the 25% tax free cash lump sum that is available?

Not necessarily.  Just because it is available, it doesn’t mean that it will be the best solution for your situation.  There are now more flexible options for using pension funds to provide a very tax efficient income, which include using the tax free cash facility, it is generally sensible to keep the pension intact until you actually need to use the fund, not drawing it for the sake of it. 

My personal pension provider is going to pay me an income when I retire, why do I need advice?

You don’t have to take your retirement income annuity from the provider of your pension plan.  In fact, it can make a big difference to your income if you shop around checking what all other providers might pay.  It is also important that you are aware of all of the options for taking benefits taking into account your broader financial situation, including your spouse if you have one.  Once you use your pension to buy an annuity, it cannot be changed so it is vital that all avenues are considered before making a decision and you understand fully what will suit your circumstances.

How do I make sure that my husband/wife is provided for if I die before I retire?

Understanding the impact that the death of one of you will have on the other is an important part of the retirement income planning.  There is more flexibility now for beneficiaries and it is important that you understand what your pension will allow and what is available elsewhere so that your retirement income strategy reflects you and your spouse’s needs.  If this is sorted out and in place early, there are no nasty surprises later on if the worst happens.

I have other savings and investments, do I need to use my pension when I reach the scheme’s retirement age?

No, it is not necessary to take your pension when you reach the scheme’s retirement age and indeed it is possible to take benefits before that from age 55.  The scheme’s normal retirement age will usually be age 60 or 65 for most people however we are finding now that many people are deciding to gradually reduce their work, easing into retirement over a period of years.  Many schemes will allow you to extend the pension age if you don’t need to access benefits.  It may be more beneficial for your personal situation to use other savings and investments instead of a pension to provide an income.  There are many reasons for this and in many cases this can be a tax efficient strategy.  That being said, there may valuable benefits in your pension that are only available at the selected retirement age and taking proper will ensure that these are not lost.

When should I start looking at my retirement options?


We feel that a sensible time to start looking at your retirement is from 10 years before you would like to retire.  This will give you time to try and make up for any shortfall that there may be between the income you can expect from your existing arrangements and what you would like to achieve when you retire.  There will be time to adjust the investment strategy or make additional contributions, or review alternative savings and investments if suitable.

If you have sufficient saved in a pension, starting the process around 5 years before you wish to retire is sensible.  Here we would start thinking about how you may take your retirement benefits, what you might need/want and adjusting the investment strategy accordingly.

The more time you have to prepare the better but we understand that this can creep up on you.  We would suggest that at least a three month period would be needed to be able to provide proper advice to taking benefits at retirement.

Should I consider boosting my pension before retirement

This will depend on what you have accumulated already, how you may wish to take benefits and whether you can afford to make additional contributions.  It is certainly one of the most tax efficient investments available and contributions will attract tax relief.  This can be particularly beneficial for higher or additional rate taxpayers who are likely to be basic or non-taxpayers in retirement and higher rate tax relief will be available.

Should I consolidate my pensions so that they are all in one place


This is a common question that clients come to us with.  It can be tempting to put all the pension funds together in one place so it is easier to deal with.  However, as there are so many different types of pension it is very important that you don’t miss out on any special features or guarantees that may be beneficial to you.  These could be lost by transferring your pensions. Also, cost is very important and there may be penalties for transferring the pension or the new scheme may be more expensive but not necessarily better.

If you have a few schemes which you are struggling to manage, it may be beneficial to have a review of the arrangements so you understand what you have and whether they are suitable.  If consolidating them is something you are interested in, a review can be followed up with advice to consolidate but only if it suitable for you.

If you are near to retirement or at retirement it is likely that consolidating a number of schemes will be beneficial, depending on your requirements.


Taking a carefully planned approach can make a huge difference to your retirement income particularly if you start planning early.  The benefits will continue where your plan is reviewed each year with your adviser.