Are you confused about your retirement income?
New research from BlackRock has branded nine million 45-54 year olds a 'lost generation' when it comes to retirement as it is revealed this age bracket is the most financially squeezed in the country.
Half of those aged 45-54 have not started saving for retirement, with 52 pence in every pound they earn spent on bills.
BlackRock says those within this age group are the most burdened by bills, save the least of any Britons, and are the most pessimistic about their financial future.
Typically, those aged 45-54 save around 12 pence in every pound they earn, compared with 18 pence for those aged 24-35.
Despite this, the average 45-54 year old still expects a sizeable retirement income of £28,655 per year - almost twice the national average of £15,548 for a single pensioner today.
Those surveyed believe a pension pot of £294,000 will be enough to generate this, but BlackRock says a pot nearly double this amount is actually need (£549,000).
As well as this, research from LV= shows that millions of people are unsure how to convert their pension pot into income in the first place.
Furthermore, just 16% of people realise that by disclosing their health and lifestyle factors they could be eligible for an enhanced annuity, which could boost their income.
Lack of planning
Phil Brown, head of retirement propositions at LV=, says the concern is that most people will simply buy their annuity from the provider they have saved their pension with, not realising this might not be the best value option.
Tony Stenning, head of UK retail at BlackRock, says many people "have lowered their aspirations for the kind of lifestyle they want in retirement", which could be a result of a lack of planning and information.
Brown says it is important that pre-retirees do not simply choose the "familiar" or easy option.
"Unlike other major financial decisions, once someone chooses how to structure their retirement income, they can't typically review their decision further down the line. To ensure retirees are able to maximise their pension funds, it's crucial they selection the solution that offers them the level of income and flexibility they need," he adds.
This article was written for our sister website Money Observer
An alternative to an annuity, income drawdown (also known as an unsecured pension) allows you to take income from your pension fund while the fund remains invested and so continues to benefit from any fund growth. The drawdown of income has to be calculated carefully as taking too much income could exhaust the pension fund so experts say the annual drawdown must not exceed what the assets would normally yield in an average year. The invested pension fund could also be hit by market turbulence and the value of the assets could fall.
In exchange for any lump sum – usually your pension fund – an annuity is “bought” from an insurance company and provides an income for life. When you die, the income stops. Annuity rates fluctuate daily and depend on your sex (although from 21 December 2012 insurers will no longer be able to use gender as a factor when calculating annuities), age, health and a number of other factors, so you have to pick the right one and, once bought, its terms cannot be altered, so seek financial advice.