Look after the pennies
Like many people, I had accrued a number of pensions over the years as various jobs attracted various pensions schemes dependent on the company, the sector and indeed the relevant legislation at that time.
As I was fast approaching a time when I might have to decide what to do with my pension arrangements I decided to ‘get things sorted out’! With this in mind I approached Advant-age’s recommended IFA, Co-Operative Wealth for some advice and help.
After an initial meeting discussing briefly what my needs were and what I was entitled to I was despatched to find all the relevant paperwork to evidence the schemes that I had paid in to over the years. This was made significantly more confusing as over time most of the pension companies had merged or been taken over and companies had changed their pension providers and this ended up as quite some task.
I was dreading the following meeting with Co-Operative Wealth as all I had manged to do was generate a large file of paperwork and I was even more confused as to what I was entitled to however, I needn’t have worried as my appointed IFA took a few relevant documents and assured me he could track everything required from there.
A few weeks later and after what must have been a good deal of detective work Co-Operative Wealth came back and confirmed that they had been in touch with all of the various companies and had indeed confirmed the relevant amounts from each of the pensions I held. Now I knew what I had it was time to plan what to do with it.
The next meeting with Co-Operative Wealth delved into my retirement plans, how/ when I wanted to start drawing a pension and finally deciding a suitable pension provider.
The advice I was given was to take advantage of the latest pension legislation and transfer most of the schemes into a flexible pension scheme. The company I chose based on their advice is extremely flexible and allows transfers in and out the pension ‘pot’ at any time. I can draw down whenever I want, leave it there growing or buy an annuity at any time, either with all or part of the fund depending on my needs at the time. This means that I can draw down only what I need and the rest sits there as capital so that when I pass away, there will still be money left for either my wife or children, unlike an annuity that will cease the minute I do!
The fund I opted for, based on the Co-Operative Wealth’s advice (as I am no investment expert!) has grown my pension pot by over 20% in the 2 and a bit years since I started it and it’s great to know that I can draw down funds, as many times as I like and whenever I like by just filing in one form.
Too many of us shy away from good pension planning as it all seems too complex but if you get the right company to advise you then you can really benefit from the changes in pension legislation and I would urge everybody to find a good IFA and have a chat about your own pension arrangements.
This article was written by Kevin Griffiths who is the Chief Executive of Age Concern in Slough & Berkshire East.
If you would like to find out more about planning your pension pot or arranging your financial affairs, then please contact Age Concern Liverpool & Sefton on 01704 542993 and we will put you in touch with Co-operative Wealth.