Fortunately, with the help of the new Telegraph Retirement Service, provided by Skipton Financial Services (SFS), you don’t have to face those difficult choices alone.
Accessing your pension fund
When it comes to officially retiring, most pension funds enable you to immediately access 25pc of your money as a tax-free lump sum, which can be used in any way you like. For example, you might withdraw it to pay for something extra special or invest it to help support your lifestyle over the years ahead.
Government restrictions currently state you can then either leave the remainder of the pension fund invested for the time being – and in the meantime rely on existing savings and investments to live on – or arrange to start receiving a regular income from the fund. The most popular way of doing this is by purchasing an annuity, which will provide you with an income for the rest of your life.
Your pension company – whether for your personal pension plan or for a company ‘defined contribution’ scheme – will offer you an annuity valuation. Sadly, many people make the mistake of simply accepting it rather than taking the time to consider if the offer is suitable for their personal circumstances – or whether they could secure a much higher income by finding a better deal elsewhere.
The annuity quotes offered by pension providers don’t usually take into account your individual needs and retirement aspirations. It is in your provider’s best interests that you purchase an annuity with them, so they will not actively encourage you to shop around. Although they are required to inform customers they can look elsewhere for a retirement income deal, they do not have to offer illustrations of how good or poor their rates are compared to other insurers.
According to the Government-created The Money Advice Service, the difference between choosing the best or worst rate could affect your income by hundreds of pounds a year, for the rest of your life.
What about your health?
Your personal circumstances – mainly your own health or lifestyle – can also make a significant difference to the deal you can secure. If you have a certain medical condition – for example something as common as diabetes - or are a smoker, you may actually be able to secure an increased level of income from your fund.
The standard annuity quotes provided by pension providers are highly unlikely to take into account any of this information. This is another area where the new Telegraph Retirement Service, can help you. Through this service, SFS will carefully assess your individual circumstances and where you want to be financially, before working closely with their dedicated pension specialists, Gateway Specialist Advice Services, to find you a better retirement income deal suited to your circumstances.
Gateway offers expert advice and guidance on the full range of pension fund options that are available
at retirement, and will present you with appropriate recommendations – to help you make an informed decision. There is no obligation to act upon any advice provided, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain from seeking specialist help to find an annuity which is right for you.
By obtaining professional financial advice through the new Telegraph Retirement Service before retiring, you can weigh up the options carefully and feel more confident with the choices you have to make – thereby giving yourself a better chance of fulfilling the comfortable retirement that your life’s work deserves.
For more information about the new Telegraph Retirement Service – provided by Skipton Financial Services.
Call 0800 085 1911 quoting ‘TM37’