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    Retirement planning: Seven tips to help you achieve your retirement goals

    If you want to live the lifestyle you desire when you decide to leave work for the last time, it’s important that you have a plan in place. How well you plan will determine how early or late you’re able to retire and could be the difference between whether you’re able to go on one or three holidays a year. Here, we will provide you with seven top tips that will help you to improve your retirement plan today, and ensure you have enough resources to live out the lifestyle you’d like once you’ve retired.

    1. Utilise any company pension schemes

    The first point of call with clients is to recommend they make the most of their workplace pension scheme.

    Usually, employers will offer a matched pension contribution scheme where they will match 100% of your pension contribution up to a certain point. If you are able to, we would advise putting in the maximum matched contribution. You are essentially doubling the money you’re paying into your pension, which no other investment will offer.

    2. Check your State Pension entitlement

    You can go online and request a State Pension Forecast which highlights how many qualifying National Insurance years you have and how many you will most likely have when you come to retire, so you can factor it into your plans.

    Be aware that you need 35 qualifying years to receive the full State Pension. However, if there is a shortfall, you can pay voluntary National Insurance Contributions to make up for any lost years. Remember that men born after 5 April 1951 and women born after 5 April 1953 have until 5 April 2023 to pay voluntary contributions to make up for gaps between April 2006 and April 2016. In addition, you will typically be able to pay voluntary contributions for the past six years.

    The deadline is 5 April each year. Check if you’re eligible here.

    3. Think about what it is you want

    Before embarking on any journey, it’s important to know where it is you’re trying to get to. In terms of pension planning, you need to think about what’s important to you and what sort of retirement it is you’re trying to achieve. Everybody is different and each person requires a bespoke plan to suit their needs. Consider the lifestyle you desire and calculate how much income per year you’ll need to maintain that in the future. When you have a numerical figure in mind, you will have a better idea of what you need to be saving now to reach that desired goal.

    For example, if your desired lifestyle requires around £20k per annum you should consider:

    • The average lifespan of a person in retirement is 25 years
    • For 20 years, you are entitled to receive an average of £10k per year from your State Pension

    Overall, you can estimate that you will need a pension pot of around £300k to fund the above desired lifestyle in retirement.

    4. Contribute to a personal pension

    If you have surplus income left over in your budget after considering the above, then it is worth paying into an additional personal pension. The main benefit of this being that you will receive tax relief on your contributions, as per below:

    • Everyone who pays income tax immediately receives 20% relief on their contributions into a personal pension, so if you were to pay £500 gross into your pension, only £400 would leave your bank account.
    • Those who are a 40% or 45% taxpayer are entitled to an extra 20% and 25% tax relief respectively, which can be claimed back at the end of the tax year via self-assessment.

    5. Consolidate your old pensions

    Typically, people tend to move jobs over the years and each new businesses is likely to have a different company pension. The issue arises from the likelihood that they’re all invested with different risk profiles in different assets, meaning your overall retirement pot is probably not being utilised as well as it could be. Instead, you may think about consolidating all these pensions into one pot, as you will have one investment strategy that can be collectively amended as your situation changes. Your risk appetite will naturally decrease as you approach retirement, and you can set up your pensions in a way to accommodate this.

    6. Complete an expression of wish form

    Whilst most assets form part of your estate and are potentially taxable if over the inheritance tax threshold, your pension is not. However, it is still important to specify who you wish to inherit your pension pot should you pass away. Your provider can let you know whether you have a signed Expression of Wish form associated with the plan and if not, you can request the forms to be sent out for you to complete and return.

    7. Seek financial advice

    Receiving advice from a financial adviser can considerably help your retirement prospects. In 2019, Royal London and the International Longevity Centre conducted a study on people who received advice between 2001 and 2006. They found that those who took ongoing advice had, on average, a pension pot that was 50 per cent larger than those who had only taken advice in the beginning.

    A good financial adviser will be able to assist with your retirement planning needs (including everything listed in this article), working with you to create an achievable plan and helping you monitor its success over time. Clients of PM+M benefit from annual or biannual reviews to monitor the investment performance of their pensions, where our team will review any changes in their life and help them amend their plan accordingly. We can then decide on the best course of action together and collectively steer the ship in the right direction.

    Get in touch…

    Finally, as a reminder, don’t worry if you feel like you’re starting your retirement planning late. As the popular Chinese proverb says, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second-best time is today.”

    If you need any assistance or advice on retirement planning, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the financial planning team (

    The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. The past is not a guide to future performance and past performance may not necessarily be repeated.

    The information contained within this article is purely for information purposes and does not constitute financial advice.

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