COVID19 Effects on Retirement Planning:  Remember that pension savings are for the long term. 

The coronavirus (COVID-19) is having a widespread impact across all aspects of financial life, including retirement plans. The current global stock market turbulence, as a consequence of COVID-19, will no doubt be concerning for individuals whose pension savings are invested partly or fully during these volatile market conditions.

However, making decisions based on what’s happening in the short term can be a risky thing to do. It might be tempting, for example, to move all your investments into cash or other lower-risk investments for a while – but in doing that, you might miss out on the point when the value goes back up, so you could lose out in the long term.

TIME FOR MARKETS TO RECOVER

It’s really important to remember that pension savings are for the long term. If you’re young and currently paying into a workplace pension, then there is time for your pension pot to achieve growth over the long term and recover from the fluctuations currently being experienced in the stock markets. You shouldn’t be too concerned, as you have many years ahead of you, and this will provide time for markets to recover before you take your pension income.

If you’re older and closer to retirement, you may have seen your funds ‘lifestyled’. This means your pension will have been moved into predominantly less risky funds and invested in ‘safer’ places such as in cash, gilts or bonds, which are lower risk and usually offer a fixed rate of return. The older you get, the more schemes tend to choose to invest in such assets to limit investment risk. However, not all pension schemes offer automatic lifestyling.

ANNUITIES

If you’re about to retire and were planning to buy an annuity, in March, the Bank of England cut the base rate twice in just over a week in a further emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic, reducing it from 0.25% to 0.1%. This has meant annuity rates have also fallen. An annuity is a type of retirement income product that you buy with some or all of your pension pot. It pays a regular retirement income either for life or for a set period.

If you are thinking of securing an income by purchasing an annuity, the recent volatility shows the importance of gradually reducing the risk in your portfolio as you approach your expected annuity purchase date. Doing this provides greater certainty over the secured income you can expect to generate from your fund.

DRAWDOWN

If we continue to see a protracted period of negative investment returns, and you’re already using drawdown or plan to move into drawdown soon, you might also want to avoid taking out any more than you need to while fund values remain depressed. The more you can leave invested, the more you will benefit over time once there is a recovery.

Drawdown is a way of taking money out of your pension to live on during retirement. You have to be aged 55 or over and have a defined contribution pension to access your money in this way. You keep your pension savings invested when you reach retirement and take money out of (or ‘drawdown’ from) your pension pot. Since your money stays invested – and it’s usually in the stock market – there is the risk that your fund may fall in value. The upside is that investment growth can provide higher returns and see your pot continue to increase in value.

CONTRIBUTIONS

If you are still in the process of saving for your retirement (and if appropriate), now might be a good time to consider increasing your pension contributions if you can. Even though your strategy may depend on the movement of the markets, increases in contributions over the long term can make a difference to your eventual retirement pot value, if it coincides with the market recovery.

Again, there is no need to panic – at this stage, we do not know what the long-term implications of coronavirus will be. We can help you see the bigger picture, weigh all your options, and take a balanced assessment of your risks.

STAGGERED

New research [1] has revealed how many pensioners are opting for a staggered retirement and working part-time before giving up work completely to make sure their pensions last the rest of their lives. With people living longer, and with the added prospect of health care costs in later life, retirees increasingly understand the benefits of having a larger pension pot in later life.

Of those who haven’t accessed their pension pot, half (51%) say it is because they are still working, while more than a quarter (25%) of people in their 60s say it is because they want their pensions to last as long as possible.

Of course, retirees who haven’t accessed their pension pot must have alternative sources of income. When asked about their income, nearly half (47%) said they take an income from cash savings, others rely on their spouse or partner’s income (35%) or the State Pension (22%), while 12% rely on income from property investments

PROFESSIONAL FINANCIAL ADVICE COUNTS

If you’re about to retire, the amount of exposure you have will reflect both your attitude to investment risk and the time you have until retirement. Most importantly, before taking any major decisions relating to your pension, take the time to get professional financial advice.

[1] LV= survey of more than 1,000 adults aged over 50 with defined contributions – 25 February 2020

Who are Vizion Wealth?

Our approach to financial planning is simple, our clients are our number one priority and we ensure all our advice, strategies and services are tailored to the specific individual to best meet their longer term financial goals and aspirations. We understand that everyone is unique. We understand that wealth means different things to different people and each client will require a different strategy to build wealth, use and enjoy it during their lifetimes and to protect it for family and loved ones in the future.

All of us at Vizion Wealth are committed to our client’s financial success and would like to have an opportunity to review your individual wealth goals. To find out more, get in touch with us – we very much look forward to hearing from you.

[1] https://assets.publishing.service.gov. uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/ attachment_data/file/730110/Table_12_1.pdf

DISCLAIMER:

INFORMATION IS BASED ON OUR CURRENT UNDERSTANDING OF TAXATION LEGISLATION AND REGULATIONS. ANY LEVELS AND BASES, OF AND RELIEFS FROM TAXATION, ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE.

A PENSION IS A LONG-TERM INVESTMENT.

THE FUND VALUE MAY FLUCTUATE AND CAN GO DOWN, WHICH WOULD HAVE AN IMPACT ON THE LEVEL OF PENSION BENEFITS AVAILABLE.

PENSIONS ARE NOT NORMALLY ACCESSIBLE UNTIL AGE 55. YOUR PENSION INCOME COULD ALSO BE AFFECTED BY INTEREST RATES AT THE TIME YOU TAKE YOUR BENEFITS. THE TAX IMPLICATIONS OF PENSION WITHDRAWALS

WILL BE BASED ON YOUR INDIVIDUAL CIRCUMSTANCES, TAX LEGISLATION AND REGULATION, WHICH ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE IN THE FUTURE.

THE VALUE OF INVESTMENTS AND INCOME FROM THEM MAY GO DOWN. YOU MAY NOT GET BACK THE ORIGINAL AMOUNT INVESTED.

PAST PERFORMANCE IS NOT A RELIABLE INDICATOR OF FUTURE PERFORMANCE.

“The information contained in this article is intended solely for information purposes only and does not constitute advice.  While every attempt has been made to ensure that the information contained on this article has been obtained from reliable sources, Vizion Wealth is not responsible for any errors or omissions. In no event will Vizion Wealth be liable to the reader or anyone else for any decision made or action taken in reliance on the information provided in this article”.

Posted by Andrew Flowers

Andrew is the managing partner of Vizion Wealth and has been involved in the offshore and onshore financial services industry for over 18 years. Andrew was the driving force behind Vizion Wealth after years of experience in a number of advisory roles within high profile wealth management, private banking and independent financial advisory firms in the UK.

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