Pension saving warning as women face ‘real risk’ of ‘nasty surprise’ at retirement

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However, new research has sparked a worrying warning to Britons. More than one in ten people (12 percent) say they leave their long-term finances to their partner to sort out, according to new research from Hargreaves Lansdown.

“Millions of people leave the issue of dealing with long term investment and pensions up to their partner, and women are twice as likely to do this as men.

“It may feel like the sensible option if one of you is more interested or the other is overwhelmed.

“However, there’s a real risk that leaving your future in someone else’s hands means you lose touch with your plans.


“You’re not in control of how much you’re saving or how it’s invested, so you’re simply trusting your partner is making sensible plans and will hit a goal you’re happy with.”

And the risk could have a serious impact when one eventually retires, Ms Coles warned.

“If they’re not as competent as they think they are, this could leave you with a nasty surprise at retirement,” she said.

“Even if they’re highly competent, they may have different priorities to you, and you can’t be sure they’re managing your money according to your wishes.

“Even if they’re doing a perfect job, simply being hands-off can cause serious problems, because you may not realise the value in your pension.

“At divorce, this can mean the less involved partner may have no idea of the balance of pensions wealth in the relationship, and the importance of dividing it fairly.

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“We should all be in touch with every aspect of our finances.

“One of you can take the lead, but both of you need to know what’s going on.

“You should be revisiting your pension and taking stock every year.

“If you’ve lost touch, then at the very least there are five key times in life where you need to reconnect to your pension.”

According to the personal finance analyst, there are five times when a person absolutely must reconnect with their pension.

When you change job

“If you’re employed and earning above the minimum threshold you will be automatically enrolled into the workplace pension, so you need to check contribution levels and where your money is being invested,” Ms Coles said.

“There will be a default fund, but there will be other options too, so you need to be sure the investments are right for you.

“You should also check whether your employer will match any additional contributions, and how best to make the most of any free money on offer.

“Finally, consider the pension you had with your old employer.

“If there are valuable guarantees or penalties associated with moving, you may want to run both schemes side-by-side, but if not, it’s worth considering consolidating into your new scheme to help you keep track.”

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When you move tax brackets

“If you move to paying higher or additional rate tax, you’ll get more tax relief on pension contributions, so it’s worth considering tax planning opportunities.

“If you move from being a higher rate taxpayer to paying the basic rate (and you’re aged 18-39), you should weigh up the relative attractions of a Lifetime ISA.

“As a rough rule of thumb, for basic rate taxpayers, once you’ve maximised any employer contributions, it may make sense to put the next £4,000 into a LISA, because you get the same tax benefits going in, but income is tax free.”

When you have children

“If one of you is changing work patterns, you need to make a conscious decision about any changes to pension contributions, to ensure it’s right for both of you.

“Don’t just cut them and assume the other partner’s pension will make up for it in the end.”

If you get divorced

“It’s absolutely vital you understand the value of your pension (and your partner’s pension) during proceedings, so they can be split fairly.

“If a divorce leaves your pension pot severely diminished, you’ll need to revisit your pension, focus on rebuilding as quickly as possible, and alter your retirement plans to take account of your new circumstances.”

When you hit the age of 50

“Everyone needs to know where they stand at this point, while they still have time to do something about it if their pension isn’t on track for the retirement they want.

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“At this age you will be able to get a free appointment with Pension Wise, who will be able to talk you through your pension and your circumstances to give you a clear picture of what still needs to be done.

“It’s worth having one of these meetings. Even if you’re really confident about what you’re doing, it’s a chance to get a valuable second opinion.”

So what does she suggest doing when reconnecting with a pension?

“Find all your pensions, and work out how much you have in them so far,” Ms Coles said.

“Make sure you know exactly what you’re contributing each month.

“Put the figures into a pensions calculator to make sure you’re on track for your target income in retirement.

“Look at where your pensions are invested, and consider whether the funds are right for your needs.

“Consider whether any of your pensions could be consolidated into one without losing any valuable benefits or paying any prohibitively expensive charges, so keeping track is much easier in future.”

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