Your pension questions answered
General pension FAQs
How much will I need to save?
Before starting a retirement plan, it's a good idea to think about how much income you're likely to need when you retire. Think about the lifestyle you'd like to have in the future - holidays, hobbies, time with family and friends.
You may be able to supplement your pension income with other sources of income, such as interest from other savings and investments, share dividends, rental income from property or part-time work.
Your financial adviser will be able to work out a realistic figure for you and help you plan how you're going to achieve your retirement goals.
If you don’t already have a financial adviser, there are a number of directories that you can use to search for one in your area and according to their specialisms. Advisers may charge for their services – though they should agree any fees with you upfront.
When should I start saving?
Although saving for retirement might not be your first priority financially, the sooner you start the better. This way, your hard-earned savings will have longer to grow.
For example, if you start saving in your 20s, you could build up more pension savings by the time you retire. If you leave it until your 30s or 40s, you'd need to save much more to provide the same level of income in retirement.
Of course, investment returns are never guaranteed. So while there's a chance your savings could grow, their value can also go down. This means you could get back less than you started with.
Can I increase my regular contributions?
You can increase your regular contributions at any time until you reach your 75th birthday.
What if I can't keep up my regular contributions?
Don't worry. You can reduce the amount to a level that's more affordable. Or you can stop making contributions altogether then restart when you're ready.
There's no charge for reducing or stopping your contributions. However, the amount you get back will be reduced if you choose either of these options.
Can I make single contributions to my plan?
Making a single contribution to your plan is a great way to boost your pension savings.
You can make single contributions to your plan by cheque. Restrictions may apply if you’ve started taking your pension savings or reached your 75th birthday.
Unfortunately, you can't make single contributions to your plan if you have a Section 32 Buy Out Plan. The type of plan you have can be found in your terms and conditions, annual statement or other correspondence from us.
Investment returns aren't guaranteed. While there's a chance your savings could grow, their value can also go down. This means you could get back less than you started with.
Can I transfer existing pension savings into my plan?
You can transfer pension savings from other pension plans. This could make it easier for you to keep track of them.
Transfer payments from one pension plan to another don’t receive tax relief. Transferring may not be in your best interests as you could lose valuable benefits which can’t be replaced. You should speak to a financial adviser before you make a decision.
Can I cash my plan in early?
Your pension savings are locked in until you reach age 55. It may be possible for you to start taking your pension savings before age 55 if your health means you can no longer carry on working.
What happens when I want to start taking my pension savings?
You'll be contacted before you start taking your pension savings. At this point, you'll receive information detailing the options that are available to you. Depending on the type of plan you have, you'll find three main ways to enjoy the money you’ve saved:
- Take it all as cash – have all your pension savings paid as a cash lump sum (25% tax free, tax due on the remaining 75% if you choose to access all of your pension savings).
- Get flexible access to your savings – take the income you need, when you need it.
- Buy a secure income – enjoy a guaranteed regular income for the rest of your life.
Of course, there's no rush to do anything. You can make your decision when it feels right for you.
Find out more about your retirement options.
What happens if I die before I start taking my pension savings?
Your plan can provide support to your loved ones in the following ways:
- The value of your plan will be paid as a tax-free lump sum, normally to your family or to the person you nominated when your plan was set up.
- If extra life cover has been added to your plan, the appropriate amount will also be paid to the person / people you've nominated.
You can tell us who you'd like to receive your pension savings by completing the nomination of beneficiaries form included in your plan documentation.
What are the charges?
The charge for managing your plan is known as the annual management charge. This is taken from the pension savings you’ve built up.
Your illustration will show you the charges that apply to your plan, when they’ll be taken and the effect on your pension savings. These charges are regularly reviewed and could change in the future.
Can I change my mind?
You have 30 days from when you receive your plan documents to change your mind. If you decide that you don't want the plan, you should complete and return the cancellation form provided to you.
Who do I speak to if I have a complaint?
Providing our customers with excellent service is very important to us. But if there's anything you're unhappy about, just get in touch. If you'd like to make a complaint, you can write to our Customer Relations team at:
PO Box 413
Royal London House
If you're not satisfied with our response you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman at:
Financial Ombudsman Service
Personal pension FAQs
What happens if I join my employer's workplace pension?
If you join your employer's workplace pension, you can:
- Contribute to both your personal pension and your employer's workplace pension at the same time, as long as you don't exceed the annual allowance.
- Stop making contributions into your personal pension and leave your pension savings invested.
- Transfer the value of your personal pension into your employer's workplace pension - provided it's able to accept transfer payments. Transferring may not be in your best interests as you could lose valuable benefits which can't be replaced. You should speak to your financial adviser before you make a decision.
What about pension savings I've built up with previous employers?
If you've built up pension savings with a previous employer, you can:
- Transfer the value of your existing pension savings. Transferring may not be in your best interests as you could lose valuable benefits which can't be replaced. You should speak to your financial adviser before you make a decision.
- Contribute to both pension plans, as long as you don't exceed the annual allowance.
- Stop making contributions and leave your pension savings invested.
Workplace pension FAQs
What happens if I’m off work due to sickness?
If you're absent from work as a result of sickness or injury, you'll normally continue making contributions into the plan. If your employer makes contributions into the plan, ask them what would happen to these contributions.
What would happen to my plan if I went on maternity leave?
While on maternity leave, you can continue, reduce or stop your contributions - the choice is yours. And when you return to work, you can easily increase or start them back up again.
If your employer makes contributions into your plan on your behalf, ask them what would happen to these contributions during maternity leave. Remember that reducing or stopping your contributions will reduce the amount you get back when you retire.
What happens if I leave my employer?
If you leave your employer you can:
- Continue to make contributions into your plan. Remember that the contributions your employer makes will stop.
- Stop making contributions and leave the pension savings you've built up invested in your plan.
- Transfer the pension savings you've built up to another pension plan. Transferring may not be in your best interests as you could lose valuable benefits which can’t be replaced. You should speak to a financial adviser before you make a decision.