A DB pension represents the gold standard of retirement savings. Benefits include:
In most cases, the answer is no. While many defined benefit pension schemes are currently offering high CETVs that may appear attractive, the reality is that final salary pensions have too many benefits unavailable with the alternative (a cash lump sum invested in a DC pot).
For instance, if do transfer out of your final salary scheme, risks you’ll face include:
However, there are some people who might benefit from leave their final salary scheme. For example, those who:
To transfer out of your defined benefit pension, it’s a regulatory requirement to seek advice from an appropriately-qualified professional, such as one of the team at Drewberry, if your pension is worth more than £30,000.
When providing advice on your final salary pension, it’s important to look at your needs holistically. We won’t just look at your DB pension. We’ll also take into account:
After an initial discussion about your retirement goals and aspirations, we’ll firstly request pension projections, CETVs and the like from your pension schemes and other revenue sources. Unfortunately this information often takes a while to come back, but we chase as often as necessary.
Once we’ve got all the information we need, we analyse your circumstances. If we then feel that transferring your final salary pension is right for you, we’ll provide you with this recommendation.
The next step is to liaise with your scheme administrators to ensure the transfer process is as smooth as possible. You’ll speak to one adviser from start to finish who’ll keep you informed every step of the way.
A DB pension — whether you transfer it or not — is usually only one element of your retirement. It therefore pays to look at your circumstances in the round to get the full picture.
At Drewberry, we do this with sophisticated financial modelling software which builds you a financial plan. This is a visual expression of your retirement goals, dreams and aspirations, showing you where you might end up depending on decisions you take today.
A final salary pension is a guaranteed income for life based on the salary you earn at retirement. It’s a type of defined benefit pension (another is a career average pension, which is based on an average of your salary across your career).
The pension you receive in retirement is in no way linked to the underlying investment performance of the scheme. Pension providers simply base it on your:
We’ve laid out an example in the table below of how your pension administrators might calculate the value of your annual DB pension income.
Defined Benefit Pension Calculation
Years in the Scheme
£60,000 final salary
Scheme Accrual Rate
30 years * £60,000 * 1/80th
While there are very few external factors that impact your annual DB retirement income, it’s another matter entirely for CETVs. These are the lump sums invested in a DC pension that schemes offer members to leave the guarantees of their final salary pension behind.
In many cases, final salary pensions are struggling. They must pay pensioners an income for life at a time when people are living longer than ever before. Schemes therefore pay out for much longer as a result.
All this comes at a time of record-low interest rates and ultra-low yields on government bonds. The investment performance of the funds DB schemes use to pay pensioners has therefore been poor, especially since the 2008/09 financial crisis.
Schemes therefore now have longer liabilities (pension incomes) than they planned for at a point where the return on investments necessary to pay these incomes is poor. This has played a major part in rising CETVs — pension plans are seeking to shift liabilities off their books.
Another big factor is that a CETV represents the amount of money you’d need to buy an equivalent pension to your forfeited final salary income on the open market. This is usually via an annuity.
With record low annuity rates due to the above investment performance issues, it now costs more than ever before to buy an equivalent pension income to what your DB scheme would offer.
As seen above, your DB pension income depends on the number of years you spend with your employer contributing to their DB scheme.
If you retire early or later, the number of pensionable years in the scheme goes up or down. This changes the calculation.
Also, if you defer your pension and retire later than the scheme’s normal retirement age (often 60 or 65), you may be entitled to a higher income when you do take it. Your scheme should lay out whether this applies to you.
With defined contribution pensions, you get access from the age of 55 onwards. However, if you have a DB pension, the scheme’s rules dictate when you start receiving benefits. This might be 60 or 65, which makes it difficult to retire early.
You may be able to take your final salary pension at 55 in certain circumstances. However, this would usually be subject to a reduction known as an early retirement factor. This means you’ll receive less income each year than you’d get if you waited until the scheme’s normal retirement age.
You may be able to access your pension early if you face ill health. Here, your pension scheme may pay an enhanced pension to compensate for the fact that you’ll likely receive an income for fewer years than the average pensioner.
Yet as you’ll have fewer years in the scheme and your pensionable earnings at retirement will also likely be lower, you could still face a reduced pension as a result of retiring early due to ill health.
Ultimately, this depends on the retirement you’d like to have. Each individual has different priorities. For example, would you like to spend more on hobbies or travelling now you’re not working and have the free time?
Or are you fine with a more modest retirement, which puts less of a strain on your retirement savings?
It’s also worth considering that your income needs might rise as you get older if you have to pay for care.
We’ve put together a guide on a good pension pot to have at 55. It offers examples of the pension pot you’ll require if you’re exchanging it for an annuity, as well as what you might need to fund your retirement with income drawdown. However, this only offers a generic overview. For personal financial planning tailored to your circumstances, we’ll be happy to help
Head of Paraplanning at Drewberry
Cashflow modelling and other financial planning is essential to work out if you have enough saved up to retire when you want to. The team at Drewberry has all the tools necessary for this in-house. This lets us run various scenarios to see if you can afford to have the retirement you deserve.
Financial advice is also hugely important. Numerous studies indicate the positive impact financial advice has on the value of pension wealth. For example:
Deciding whether or not a final salary pension transfer is best for you is complicated. It’s an area where it’s important to receive high quality advice to ensure you’re making the right decisions.
That’s where the team at Drewberry can help.
We started Drewberry because we were tired of being treated like a number. We want to give you as our client the service you deserve when discussing matters as important as planning your financial future.
Below are just a few reasons why it makes sense to let us help:
For help and advice, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. You can reach us on 02084327334 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We use clever technology to bring your financial future to life