10% of Brits plan retirement in less than an hour
More than one in 10 retirees spend less than an hour planning their financial future and only 38% are satisfied with their retirement income.
Retirees in the UK are more preoccupied with their retirement dreams than they are with securing their financial future to fund those plans.
While 71% of people have "big" retirement dreams that they wish to enjoy after work, the majority of those over 55 (49%) admitted they had spent just three months or less organising their finances with 12% even admitting to spending less than an hour on getting their arrangements in order.
The research from Legal & General found just 16% of retirees took a year or over to plan their future and 14% were concerned by the amount of time they had spent doing so.
Tim Gosden, head of strategy for Legal & General's individual retirement solutions business, said the results were worrying and showed that many people were unprepared to financially cope with what is likely to be a long retirement.
"Our research shows that there is a clear knowledge gap among retirees aged 55 and over about the time required for planning their retirement income," he said.
"Many of us will now live into our nineties and beyond and so taking less than three months, let alone less than an hour, is unlikely to be long enough to plan ahead."
He added that arranging retirement income "can be a daunting process, with some people ending up making the wrong choices, often because they just choose the quickest, easiest route".
So how can you better prepare for retirement? Here are six top tips from pensions expert Andrew Tully of MGM Advantage.
1. Consider when you want or need to take your benefits – it doesn't have to be at ‘traditional' retirement ages, or when you stop working.
2. Remember that you will be allowed to take up to 25% of your pot as a tax-free lump sum – most people decide to do this, although you don't need to. If you have a small pension pot (below £18,000) you may be able to take the whole pot as a lump sum.
3. Consider all the different options to turn your pension pot into an income, such as an annuity, an investment-linked annuity and income drawdown. Each of these comes with different risks. Income from drawdown or an investment-linked annuity could fall in future (although hopefully it will increase). With annuities the income is guaranteed but it comes with the risk of inflation, which means the income you receive may not buy as much in future.
4. Think about how much flexibility you need over your income – bearing in mind you may be in retirement for 20 or 25 years - and whether you want to protect your spouse or partner when you die. These decisions often need to be made at the outset so it's important you consider them carefully as you may not be able to change things later.
5. If you buy an annuity don't just purchase it from the company your pension is with. Make sure to shop around other providers, giving full information about your health and lifestyle – this can help you get a much better annuity rate and substantially bigger income.
6. Consider taking independent advice. Parts of the financial process like buying an annuity are once in a lifetime decisions and so important to get right. A qualified adviser can help you do that.
Tax-free lump sum
An inelegant phrase that is nonetheless accurate in what it describes: a one-off payment to a beneficiary that is free of any form of taxation. Usually received when using a pension fund to purchase an annuity, as 25% of the overall fund can be taken as a tax-free lump sum.
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.
An increase in the general level of prices that persists over a period of time. The inflation rate is a measure of the average change over a period, usually 12 months. If inflation is up 4%, this means the price of products and services is 4% higher than a year earlier, requiring we spend and extra 4% to buy the same things we bought 12 months ago and that any savings and investments must generate 4% (after any taxes) to keep pace with inflation. Since 2003, the Bank of England has used the consumer prices index (CPI) as its official measure of inflation (see also retail prices index).
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.