• 31% of Gen X are uncertain about when to retire, versus 19% of Baby Boomers and older generations
  • A quarter of all UK adults aren’t sure when to retire
  • Many also feel unsure about how much they need in retirement (23%) and whether to semi-retire or stop working completely  
  • Many also feel unsure about how much they need in retirement (23%) and whether to semi-retire or stop working completely 
  • Standard Life outlines key considerations to help inform retirement decisions 

A significant number of UK adults feel uncertain about what they’ll receive in their state pension and when their payments will begin, including many of those who are approaching retirement age, according to new research1 from Standard Life’s Retirement Voice report.

31% of Generation X (people aged 42-57) are uncertain about when to retire, compared to 19% of Baby Boomers and older generations (aged 58 and above), according to new research1 from Standard Life’s Retirement Voice report.

A quarter (24%) of all UK adults admit they feel unsure about when to retire. 27% of females feel less assured about retirement timings compared to their male counterparts (21%).  

Standard Life’s research, conducted among more than 6,000 people, highlights other aspects of retirement that are causing uncertainty:

Dean Butler, Managing Director for Retail Direct at Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group commented: “It’s worrying that many of those who have retirement in their sights are uncertain about when to retire, how much they’ll need and if semi-retirement might be a consideration. It looks like there’s a big generational difference emerging between people in the 40’s and 50’s and their older counterparts, likely in part due to the decline of Defined Benefit (DB) schemes, in which you’d get a guaranteed income for life from your employer based on your final or average salary, and the rise of Defined Contribution (DC) schemes, in which your overall retirement pot is made up of contributions from yourself and your employer, as well as investment growth. Many Gen Xers are caught between the decline of DB and massive expansion we’ve seen in DC savings in the last ten years as a result of auto-enrolment. DC pensions give you more freedom to access your money in the way you want to, but you have a lot more responsibility to make sure you’re saving enough to fund the whole of your retirement. 

“Planning for retirement can feel complex and overwhelming, particularly as two years of high inflation and rising interest rates have led to shorter-term financial pressures dominating most people’s financial affairs. There’s a lot to consider, such as how long your savings need to last and what sort of lifestyle you’d like, and so it can be hard to feel confident that you’ve got the right plans in place. Breaking down your considerations into bite-sized chunks will make this process less overwhelming and easier to make choices based on these factors.  

“Remember you don’t need to make these decisions alone. Pension Wise offers free guidance, and it’s also worth speaking to your pension provider or employer if you feel you don’t understand your retirement finances and options fully. At the moment seeking advice can seem inaccessible to many, and we’d like to see advice and guidance extended and made more affordable to ensure people can make well informed decisions, and ultimately achieve better retirement outcomes.” 

Dean Butler outlines the key things to consider when making decisions around retirement:

Think about when to retire – “One of the first steps is to think about the age at which you’d like to retire, and at which you’d be comfortable stopping work. It will help to know when you’ll be entitled to claim your State Pension, as that forms part of most people’s retirement plans. You should also check if the retirement age you have in mind is the one on your pension plans and update this if it is different (you’ll need to do this for all pensions). This may seem like an unimportant detail, but the age you have on your plan can affect investment choices the nearer you get to it.  

“You should also bear in mind that the age at which you can access money from your pension plan is currently 55, but this is due to rise to 57 from 2028. 

“When considering when to retire, it’s likely you’ll start to think of what the day-to-day reality of life without work will mean for you. While many people are excited by the freedom retirement can offer, some worry about how they will fill their time and maintain their social connections. Many employers and pension providers offer schemes to help prepare for this, and there are some online communities like The Joy Club to help meet like-minded people when retirement comes.” 

Get to know your retirement options – “Deciding how you plan to take your pension savings is also a key part of any retirement plan. If you’re getting close to retirement, it’s time to start investigating how to make the best use of the money in your pension pot. For example, you can take money out in lump sums, leave it invested during your retirement and take it flexibly as and when you need it, or convert it into a guaranteed income for life.

“Check with your provider that your pension plan offers the options that you want. If they don’t, shop around and compare providers to find a deal that works for you – you may even find you get more from your retirement income as a result.” 

Work out how much you might need in retirement – “It’s important to estimate how much income you will need every year, factoring in things like the type of retirement lifestyle you’d like, whether you have mortgage and other debts that need paying off, and whether you’ll be supporting anyone else financially during your retirement. The Retirement Living Standards, published by the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association, give a helpful starting point when retirement planning and will tell you how much you might need to fund a minimum, moderate or comfortable lifestyle – whether that’s as a couple or a single person. It’s worth noting that the standards don’t account for housing costs in retirement, so if you’re renting or still paying off your mortgage you’ll need to add this on.” 

Understand the bigger picture – “When you have an idea of the kind of lifestyle you’d like and the income you’d need to pay for that, the next step is to see whether your savings can support this. Starting with your pension pot, you will need an accurate picture of where you are right now. Most pension plans let you check online any time how much you’ve got and if your savings are on track. 

At most, the State Pension will give you just over £10,600 a year, rising to £11,540 from April. This would mean you need roughly £12,000 more a year if you were aiming for a ‘moderate’ lifestyle, which includes a two-week foreign holiday and around £800 for new clothing and footwear a year. This is where your personal and workplace pension plans and any other retirement income sources like ISAs or other investments come in, as well as any other income options you might have from things like part-time work, rental income or other savings.

Track down lost pots – “If you had a previous job (or jobs) that came with a pension plan, you may have a ‘lost’ pot of money which could give your retirement funds a boost. Tracking down and combining your pots could also help give you a clearer picture of how much you currently have in pension savings.

“Transferring other pension plans may not be right for everyone, and you’ll need to consider all the facts and decide if it’s right for you and you should seek expert advice to guide your decision. You could lose money by giving up any guarantees or benefits you might get from your other pension plans. There’s also no guarantee that you’ll get more as a result of transferring.” 




Sarah Muir
07870 397 537

James Merrick
Standard Life
07974 063 067

Notes to editors

1Boxclever conducted research among 6,350 UK adults. Fieldwork was conducted 26th July – 9th August 2023. Data was weighted post-fieldwork to ensure the data remained nationally representative on key demographics.

About Standard Life

  • Standard Life is a brand that has been trusted to look after peoples’ life savings for nearly 200 years
  • Today it proudly serves millions of customers who come to Standard Life directly, through advisers and through their employers’ pension scheme.
  • Standard Life is part of Phoenix Group, the largest long-term savings and retirement business in the UK. We’re proud to be building on nearly 200 years of Standard Life heritage together
  • Our products include a variety of Pensions, Bonds and Retirement options to suit people’s needs, helping our customers to invest and save for their future. We’re proud to offer a leading range of sustainable and responsible investment options.
  • We support our customers on their journey to and through retirement with comprehensive, easy-to-understand guidance so they can invest in the right way for their needs, and plan a future they feel confident about.
  • The value of investments can go down as well as up and may be worth less than originally invested.

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