A recent survey commissioned by the BBC suggests that half of all UK adults have made no pension savings. Only 36% of under 30’s make any contributions and only 45% of 41 to 65 year olds contribute. Most cite lack of affordability but others expressed concerns about pensions given recent stock market falls and the well publicised failure of companies such as Equitable Life.
This is not as straight forward as it seems. For many on low earnings it is arguable that they are quite right in not making private pension contributions as this is simply likely to tip them over the threshold for state benefits of far greater value than the pension which they will receive. The UK government has tried to remedy this effect by introducing Pension Credits. You can find our more about Pension Credits here
If you know what your expected private and state pensions are, you can can obtain an estimate of your entitlement, if any. It would be sensible for anyone on low earnings who is considering making private contributions to check whether they will actually be better off.
The FSA consumer website Moneymadeclear
also provides a great deal of useful information, not only on pensions but other aspects of financial planning.
Whilst I recognise only too well that younger people can only afford very limited contributions, it is worthwhile mentioning that if an early start can be made with retirement planning a respectable level of retirement income can be built up at an affordable contribution rate. The opposite is also true. If contributions are left too late, it will be nearly impossible to make them up. In this
table the FSA have shown estimates of the levels of pension which can be expected given different levels of contributions and starting ages.
For example, a 20 year old contributing £50 per month could expect a pension of £238 per month when they retire at 65. They would need to live just under 8 1/2 years after retirement (i.e. to age 72 1/2) which is within most people’s life expectancy, i.e. they are likely to get their money back.
Of course, other assets can be used such as properties and business sale proceeds. These need to be factored into retirement planning. The key word here is ‘Planning‘. In order to ensure that you are able to achieve the level of income in retirement which is needed to maintain your standard of living, you need to have a plan which is updated regularly. The plan should be based on cash flow modelling as this is the only effective means of analysing the impact of different types of assets as well as changing levels of requirement.