How to review and plan your pension

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I recently attended a Retirement Seminar, not because I am due to retire in the foreseeable future, but as an observer for research purposes.

All the attendees were either approaching retirement or were considering their options, and what they would need to do in order to achieve their desired retirement.

As I sat there listening to their plans I started to think how brilliant it all sounded and what fantastic plans they all had in place.

Then it hit me; not only had these people been saving towards their pension for years, but they were in the very fortunate position of working for employers that offered a good pension scheme, and had paid for them to attend this seminar and other similar pension seminars throughout their working lives.

I do have a pension – I actually have a few with various pension providers – but I realised that; a) I had not reviewed them for several years, and b) had no plan for how I was going to achieve my required retirement pot. I made a promise to myself there and then that I would rectify this.

1. Find your pension statements

You should (subject to you having kept the pension providers up-to- date with your address details) have received a statement once a year informing you on the value of your pension, projected benefits, contributions made etc.

However, if you cannot find your statements, you can use the DWP’s website which was launched by the Pension Tracing Service - to help you quickly and more easily locate your lost pension savings: Remember, you will need to know your employer’s name or the name of your pension provider to use this service.

2. Obtain an up-to-date value

This can either be obtained by contacting the pension provider by telephone or online, as the majority of pension providers now have member sites.

3. Realistically calculate what your required income will be in retirement

Ask yourself what outgoing commitments you will continue to have in your retirement, from mortgage to rent and utilities. Then consider what new outgoings you may have. Whilst travelling to and from work will cease, you will probably still need a means of transport to get out and about and you may wish to join a club, start a new hobby, or meet up with your friends and family for lunch more frequently.

A good way to work out what your estimated expenditure would be is to use a budget calculator, similar to the ones you may be using currently to calculate your monthly income and outgoings.

4. Work out if you are on target

This may be a daunting prospect, but many pension providers have retirement calculators available where you can enter the value of your current pension plans along with the level of contributions you and your employer are making.

At this stage, remember to take into account any state pension you may be entitled to, although a lot of retirement calculators will include this in their calculations.

5. Understand what pension scheme your employer offers

With the advent of auto-enrolment, employers are legally obliged to enrol all eligible employees onto a pension scheme. So it’s worth spending the time finding out about the specific pension scheme your employer offers and what your employer currently contributes towards it. Many employers will increase their contribution if you increase your own, and this a very valuable benefit which you should make sure you take advantage of.

Our articles cover a wide range of mainstream financial products and employee benefits. Terms and conditions may vary depending on your provider. Please ensure you check the specific terms and conditions of any financial products and employee benefits available to you from your employer.