As UK life expectancy rises, people are spending more time than ever in retirement and their retirement income has to stretch much further. So it’s never been more important to find the best pension on the market to see you through your old age.
Although all employers now have to provide workplace pensions to most employees under auto-enrolment, there is still often a real case to make personal arrangements and set up your own private pension. For all those people who are self employed or contracting there is no alternative but to make your own arrangements.
Private pensions are a type of defined contribution pension scheme. They’re essentially pots of money that you pay into during your working life, which you then use to provide yourself with a retirement income.
There are two main types of pension plan to consider when setting up a private pension: a stakeholder pension and, for the more experienced investor (and generally those with a larger pension pot), self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs).
A stakeholder pension allows for flexibility when it comes to the size and regularity of contributions. Stakeholder pension providers also tend to cap charges and, if you’re unsure about the investments you’d like to make, offer a ‘default’ fund that’s designed to suit as many people as possible.
A self-invested personal pension, on the other hand, offers much more freedom and flexibility when it comes to managing your investments. With a SIPP, you or your investment manager is free to manage the funds as you see fit.
There’s a far wider range of investment choices available in SIPPs compared to stakeholder pensions. However, fees and charges aren’t capped by law as with stakeholder pensions, meaning they’re the more expensive option of the two.
Finding the right private pension requires careful consideration. After all, you’ll hopefully have a long and happy retirement, but you’ll need to fund that somehow. Achieving your financial goals for post-work life is possible, but it requires you to lay the groundwork today with good pension planning during your working life.
It’s here that the help of a financial adviser can be invaluable. There are a huge array of options available if you’re starting your own pension, which makes it hard to know if one provider offers a better personal pension than the rest.
You’ll also have to consider your investment choices and possibly commit to managing them. Again, this is an area where a pensions adviser can be of huge assistance, especially for a new investor or someone with limited time to dedicate to their pension investments.
Everyone’s pension requirements are different. Just because one option works out as the best pension for a friend, family member or colleague doesn’t mean that same personal pension will automatically suit your needs.
Below is a list of some of the top investment management firms; however, there are many other providers available out there in the wider market.
AJ Bell was founded in 1995. As well as SIPPs, AJ Bell is also an award-winning provider of ISAs and dealing accounts. The AJ Bell Youinvest SIPP is the company’s execution-only, low-cost variant of a personal pension.
Based in Bristol, Hargreaves Lansdown was founded in 1981. It offers ISAs, pensions, investments, financial advice and share dealing services.
Fidelity International was founded in 1969 as the international arm of Fidelity Investments, a financial services corporation based in Boston, Massachusetts. It became independent from Fidelity Investments in 1980.
Fidelity’s SIPP is a low-cost variant that charges a combination of percentage and flat-rate annual service fees depending on your investments.
Alliance Trust Savings
Alliance Trust was founded in 1890 and provides full SIPPs, as well as ISAs and investment dealing accounts.
Bestinvest was founded in 1986. It provides execution-only investment services as part of the Tilney Group, including a low-cost SIPP.
Rowanmoor is the UK’s largest independent small self-administered scheme (SSAS) provider and a provider of bespoke self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs).
Standard Life – known as Standard Life Aberdeen since March 2017 – is a Scottish investment company headquartered in Edinburgh. In March 2017, Standard Life agreed to merge with the investment company Aberdeen Asset Management and became Standard Life Aberdeen.
The above table is a list of top UK SIPP providers; others are available in the market. Also available on the market are stakeholder pensions, a lower-cost alternative to SIPPs. The best UK pension provider for you will depend on your individual needs and circumstances. That’s where the value of pensions advice comes in.
There are a number of different options you’ll have to consider to ensure you find the best pension for your needs and circumstances. There’s no shortage of pension funds available on the market, either, so if you’re going it alone you’ll need to do a lot of shopping around to compare pension schemes.
Make sure you compare the fees pension providers charge for any funds you’re interested in. Not only might you have to pay fees for managing your investments — known as annual management charges or AMCs — but there may also be charges for transferring your investments, as well as other fees.
Any pension fees you pay will affect the overall pension you receive when you retire.
Although it’s important to build up a good pot of pension savings to see you through retirement, ultimately your pension payments must be affordable during your working life.
Some pension funds may impose a minimum contribution at regular intervals, which might not be suitable if your income is irregular, such as if you’re self-employed.
On the flipside, if you’re fortunate enough to come into some extra cash you might want to contribute a lump sum to your pension. It’s vital to find out whether your personal pension allows lump sum contributions as well as regular payments for additional flexibility.
The biggest thing to consider when it comes to setting up a pension is your range of investment choices. It’s important that you pick a pension fund or funds that match with your objectives and offers a degree of investment risk you’re happy with.
When investing your pension pot, these are some of the options you might want to consider:
While you might be able to stick with the default fund in a stakeholder pension if you’re unsure or new to investing, this might close off some of the avenues available to you and therefore limit your returns.
With so many investment options available when you’re setting up a new personal pension, it makes sense to entrust the process to an expert adviser whose job focuses on investment management every day.
The team here at Drewberry is well-placed to discuss your needs and marry them with your appetite for risk to ensure you put your money into a pension that works for you.
Sadly, the wealth people work so hard to build in their pension funds makes them tempting targets for fraudsters and thieves. There’s even a risk that you might become a victim when setting up your first pension fund.
So just how do you avoid pension investment scams? Below is a checklist to follow that could help you avoid scams and invest your retirement savings safely and securely.
It’s natural when searching for the best private pension that we look for the highest promised returns, but these can sometimes be fake opportunities.
Well-known unregulated investment scams are often overseas and might involve foreign hotels, vineyards or other construction projects.
While there are plenty of legitimate overseas investments, particularly if you’re happier to take a higher degree of risk, always be wary of such opportunities and do your homework to make sure you know what you’re getting into.
You should take advice on all investments from a regulated financial adviser, but this is especially true for investments promising big returns as these are probably carrying a high degree of risk.
A genuine, registered financial adviser should lay out the risks of investing your money in these areas rather than simply promising huge rewards for doing so.
The Financial Conduct Authority’s Financial Services Register is totally free to use and is fully searchable, so you can discover if the company you’re thinking of investing with is authorised / registered by the Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA) and / or the FCA to conduct financial business in the UK.
The register has recently been updated to include firms reported as providing regulated products or services without the correct authorisation, as well as those known to be running scams. A search for such a company will throw up its entry on the register with prominent warnings totally clear.
Deciding on a private pension is a big decision. You’re choosing one of the investment vehicles that will see you through your old age. Take as much time as you need to find the right pension for you.
Unscrupulous firms will use high-pressure sales techniques, such as offering tempting investment opportunities for only a short space of time.
Don’t allow yourself to be swept along with such tactics.
Some fraudsters won’t let you call them back at a later date, perhaps because they have no inbound telephone service. That should also arouse immediate suspicion.
That’s not just financially, but also in terms of the peace of mind you get from knowing your investments and ultimately future security are in the hands of an experienced professional.
While there’s nothing wrong with managing your pensions and investments yourself, the reality is that doing so — and doing it well — takes up a lot of time, time that most of us simply don’t have to spend.
Once you’ve engaged a pensions financial advisor, you can sit down with them at regular intervals to discuss your investments, their performance, and whether your pension investments still suit your needs.
That way, your pension fund can stay abreast of changes in the markets even without your constant oversight, minimising the risk of poor performance.
A good financial plan can help you make the right decisions when it comes to your finances. Make the right decisions today to build a more prosperous future.
Good financial planning with clear goals can increase your retirement income by as much as 53%. Old Mutual Redefining Retirement Survey
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