Many people in the UK only have experience of simple pension schemes with limited investment options, perhaps taken out many years ago. These can be right for many people but if you have built up significant pension funds, you may now be feeling that your money does not get the attention it deserves and investment returns may have consequently suffered.
A change to pension rules in 2006 now means greater choice. Moreover, since the beginning of the credit crisis navigating the markets has become increasingly difficult. It is important as world markets globalise to seek out suitable investments to diversify portfolios in order to assist in avoiding falls and to take advantage of opportunities. In addition to traditional investment classes, a wise investor should constantly seek out and review new opportunities; this includes but is not limited to:
Direct commercial property and property partnerships.
Direct deposit accounts.
Protected/structured products and funds.
Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs).
Direct commodities and Exchange Traded Commodities (ETCs).
Loans from your pensions to your company.
Investment in private/unlisted companies by pension fund.
Other esoteric and non-retail funds.
Modern pension systems allow you to consolidate schemes; giving you more control, better information and open up access a vast range of investment opportunities – all under one straightforward online system, accessible 24 hours a day – a far cry from one paper annual statement, often meaning things have happened and it is already too late to react to a given situation.
What are the benefits of saving for retirement via a pension as opposed to say an ISA?
The benefits of using a pension to save for retirement can often be forgotten. Remember that contributions to a pension can attract between 20% and 60% tax relief. This means a £10,000 contribution could cost you as little as £4,000 this is a 250% increase before your fund even gets invested! Whilst ISAs can be a useful savings tool, remember ISAs do not attract any tax relief so a £10,000 contribution costs you £10,000. Once invested pensions (and ISAs) grow virtually free of all tax. When you reach retirement, you can usually take 25% as a tax free lump sum. If you had an occupational scheme before 2006, then you may be able to take up to 100% of your fund as a tax free lump sum. Make sure you look in to this.
Everyone should take care when it comes to transferring. Get professional advice particularly where schemes are older. Otherwise, you may unwittingly lose valuable benefits such as enhanced tax free cash and guaranteed annuity rates. Specialist advice from an experienced and well qualified financial adviser will ensure you get a thorough review of your existing pensions and advise on a suitable new investment structure.