If you’re one of the many people who missed out on a defined benefit (DB) pension and were not automatically enrolled in a workplace pension at the start of your career, you may find yourself part of the ‘miserable middle’.
DB pensions – which pay an income in retirement based on your earnings and length of service – have become increasingly rare as hundreds of companies moved to schemes that are simpler and cheaper to run.
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Under auto-enrolment, employers are legally required to set up a workplace pension for their qualifying employees, where the employer and employee must contribute to the pension. However, auto-enrolment was only introduced in 2012, which means anyone over 40 could have missed out on several years of employer contributions and be lagging behind with their retirement savings.
Fortunately, there are several ways to help improve your retirement prospects.
1. Take action now
If you feel like you’re lagging behind with your pension, rest assured that it’s rarely too late to start saving. The most important step is to take action now. The longer you wait, the harder it will be to catch up.
You can start by setting up contributions to your employer’s pension scheme or, if you’re not eligible for a workplace scheme, opening a personal pension. Your employer contributions will usually be taken at source from your payroll. For personal pensions, you can either make one-off contributions when appropriate or you can set up a direct debit from your bank account to make your contributions easier to commit to and maintain.
2. Stay engaged with your pension
Review your statements regularly and keep track of your contributions and investment returns. When you get a new job or a pay rise, resisting splurging the extra income on a more luxurious lifestyle and, instead, diverting it towards your pension could really pay off over the long term.
Find out whether increasing your contributions will also mean your employer increases theirs. It varies from job to job, but some employers might offer higher contributions as you get older, or once you’ve worked for the firm for a certain amount of time.
3. Consider a flexible retirement
If you’re approaching retirement and are worried about a shortfall in your pension savings, it could be worth considering a flexible retirement. This means continuing to work in some capacity, either part-time or on a freelance basis, during your retirement years. This can help to supplement your retirement income and potentially improve your standard of living in retirement. It can also help you stay active and engaged, which can be beneficial for your overall health and wellbeing.
4. Seek advice
Understanding how to improve your retirement prospects isn’t always easy, and that’s where getting some smart advice comes in. A financial adviser can help you understand your options and develop a realistic savings plan that takes into account your current financial situation and goals for retirement. That way, you’ll feel more confident that you’re on track for a secure financial future.
The value of investments, and any income from them, can fall and you may get back less than you invested. This does not constitute tax or legal advice. Tax treatment depends on the individual circumstances of each client and may be subject to change in the future. Information is provided only as an example and is not a recommendation to pursue a particular strategy.
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