Check my pension
Retirement might be far off, but this doesn’t mean you should sit back and forget about your pension.
Here, we look at all the ways you can keep on top of your pension. Through taking each of these seven steps to check your pension, you’ve got all the main bases covered to ensure your future retirement is under control.
1. Check how much you’ll need in retirement
It’s important to work out exactly how much you’re going to need when you stop work, so that you can be certain your retirement savings are on track. Remember that your outgoings may fall when you retire, as you might have finished paying your mortgage and will no longer have travel costs to pay if you were commuting into work.
Our pension calculator can help you pinpoint exactly how much you need to enjoy either a comfortable or modest retirement.
2. Check how much State Pension you'll get
The current maximum weekly State Pension you can claim in the 2019/20 tax year is £168.60. To qualify for this amount, you’ll need to have made 35 years’ worth of National Insurance Contributions (NICs).
Don’t assume that if you’ve had a career break to bring up children you won’t be able to get the full State Pension. If you’ve got a child under 12 and are claiming Child Benefit, you’ll get National Insurance Credits towards your State Pension even if you’re not in paid employment.
If there are any gaps in your National Insurance Contributions, you may be able to top them up by making some voluntary contributions.
You can check how much State Pension you might be entitled to at https://www.gov.uk/check-state-pension
3. Check the value of your pensions
Make sure you keep an eye on the total value of your pensions, as this, together with your state pension entitlement, will mean you can keep tabs on how far off you are from the retirement lifestyle you want. This will fluctuate over time and could go up or down depending on how the investments your retirement savings are in perform.
You can find the current value of your pension on your pension statement. Your statement will also give you an estimate of how much income you’re likely to get from your pension if you were to convert it into an annuity, or income for life, when you stop work. Find out more in our blog What does my pension statement say?.
If you want an up-to-date value of your pensions or don’t have access to all of your pension statements, sign up online today and we’ll find out the total value of your pensions on your behalf.
4. Check your pensions performance
Checking your pension is invested correctly is the foundation of a high quality pension. Put simply, the returns you’ll see from your pension is determined by what it’s invested in.
That’s why it's important to ensure that your investment strategy is appropriate for your goals and objectives. We frequently see customers in investments which are too risky or too cautious for their needs.
Your pensions performance is also dictated by your fund manager. Checking the track record of your the funds your pension is invested in against the thousands of investment funds in the market isn’t the easiest task.
By filling out a few details online, we’ll check your pensions investment strategy together with your track record of performance and compare it to all of the regulated funds in the market.
Sign up online today to check your pensions performance.
5. Check if you can save money on your pension charges
Fees can really eat into your pension investment growth, so it’s vital you understand exactly how much you’re being charged. Learn more about the basics of pension fees in our Top tips on pension charges blog.
To demonstrate the devastating impact of expensive pension charges, we recently did a study which showed how many people pay too much for their pension and how much they'll lose out in their retirement as a result.
The study showed that reducing your annual pension charge from 1.2% to 0.4% a year could save you over £18,000 over a 20 year period (based on a pension value of £50,000 growing at 5% a year). This example is for illustration purposes only and growth may be higher or lower than illustrated.
If you’re paying well over the odds, it may be worth transferring to an alternative pension, but you must first check that you won’t lose out on any valuable benefits if you switch.
You can find out how much you’re paying and how this compares to the market through signing up online today for no cost
6. Check whether your provider offers pension drawdown
If you’re approaching retirement, you’ll need to start thinking about how you’ll receive an income from your pension. The usual ways to do this are via pension drawdown, where your pension savings remain invested and you take an income as and when you need it, or via an annuity, although some people opt for a combination of these approaches. You can read more about this in our blog Drawdown vs Annuities.
If you’ve chosen Flexible-Access drawdown, you’ll need to check your provider offers this. We’ve found in a large amount of cases, people have at least one pension which doesn’t offer Flexible-Access Drawdown. (2)
If accessing your savings flexibly from 55 is something you’re keen on, then this is definitely something really important thing you should check. If you want help in figuring out which of your providers offer Flexible-Access Drawdown, sign up online and enter your details and we’ll then tell you which of your providers offers it.
If you do find out one of your providers doesn’t offer Flexible-Access Drawdown and you want to transfer to a pension that does offer this feature, make sure you seek advice before doing this. If you transfer a pension any advice fees you pay are taken out of your pot, so you won’t have to pay for anything directly out of your pocket. Read more on this subject in our blog the Pension Advice Allowance explained .
Even if your provider does offer Flexible-Access Drawdown, you should still see what other providers are offering to make sure you’ve got access to a wide choice of funds and the charges are competitive.
Before withdrawing money from your pension it’s worth getting professional financial advice. Free guidance is available through Pension Wise.
7. Check you don’t have any missing pensions
If you’ve had lots of different jobs over the years, you might have pensions which you’ve lost track of. On average, people have 11 jobs over their lifetime meaning the chances are you probably have multiple pensions dotted around.
Sometimes pensions can get lost if you’ve moved to a new house and haven’t told your provider about your change of address. If you haven’t done this, your providers will be sending all your pension statements to a previous address.
Read our blog Could you own a share of the UK's £20bn lost pensions mountain? to learn how to locate any pensions you might have lost or forgotten about.
Finding missing pensions could make a real difference to your retirement income when you stop work so make sure you claim what’s yours. We’ve found over £150m in missing SERPS pensions, with an average missing pension value of £23,000.(1)
If you think you might have an unclaimed SERPS pension then sign up to find your missing SERPS pension here.
(1) Based on over 6,500 policies we’ve located since January 2017
(2) Based on 6,099 pension reviews completed between June and December 2018