Six questions to ask yourself when choosing a pension plan

Article Header
Kirsty Kerr

August 24, 2023

3 mins read

If you’re looking to set up a personal pension plan, you’ll quickly find there’s a lot of choice out there. It can be hard to know what to look out for, so we’ve covered some important things we think you should consider when choosing a plan to suit you.

1. How easy is it to set up?

Can you set up your new plan quickly online, or do you need to fill in paper forms and post them in? 

At this point, it’s also worth thinking about any other pension plans you might have, maybe from previous jobs. Sometimes when you’re opening a new pension plan you’ll be given the option to transfer your old plans into your new one during the set-up process. 

Combining your pensions can help you to keep track of your money, make planning a little easier and potentially cut back on charges and paperwork. So it could be good to take advantage of the opportunity if it’s right for you – and one less thing on your to-do list!

2. How flexible are your payments in?

Is there a minimum amount you’ll need to regularly pay in? And do you have the option to stop, start or change your payments whenever you like? Can you do this online or do you need to call in?

Paying into your pension plan is an important part of any financial plan, but life can be unpredictable. You may find there are times when you want to increase your pension payments, and there might be times when you need to cut back to support yourself in other areas. Your pension plan should be able to move with you, making it easier to save for your future.

3. How much will you pay in charges?

All pension plans come with charges – usually as a percentage of the value of your pot – but make sure you understand them and feel confident you’re getting value for money. You can usually compare charges online. 

4. What are your investment options?

When you pay money into your pension plan, that money is invested. So another important thing to consider is whether you’ll have the right investment options to suit your needs.

If you’re relatively hands-off when it comes to investing and would rather the experts do the work for you, then check to see if there are managed funds available. 

Or, if you have the time and knowledge to choose and manage your own investments, check to see what kinds of funds are available for you to choose from.

It’s also worth checking how easy it would be to switch investments if you wanted to. 

5. Is it easy to keep on top of your plan?

Keeping track of your money shouldn’t be hard. It often helps if there’s an easy way to keep an eye on your plan and generally manage things online. That way, you can check in on your plan anytime, anywhere. So find out if you’ll be able to download an app or create an online account before you open a plan, and what actions you’ll be able to take.

At Standard Life, our app and online dashboard make it easy to take control of your plan. You can check your balance, make withdrawals, top up, keep your details up to date, check your charges and manage your investments. Plus, you’ll get access to extra tools and resources to help you plan for the future you want.

6. How can you take your money?

Finally, when the time comes to start taking your pension money, what are your options?

There are a few different ways you can choose to take your pension savings. Is the option you want available to you? And what’s the process for doing it?

It’s also worthwhile looking into what your options are when it comes to your 25% tax-free lump sum. Some providers will ask you to take it all in one go if they can’t support you taking it as and when you need to, so look out for that.

Finally, think about how the option you choose might play out in practice. For example, some people find it more tax efficient to take some of their tax-free lump sum and some taxable income at the same time. At Standard Life, we call this tailored drawdown. But not all providers will offer this, so make sure to dig into the detail.

Why choose a Standard Life personal pension?

  • It's quick and easy to open your pension plan with us
    Our simple online sign-up process is designed to be clear and hassle-free. That means you could start saving for your future in just a few minutes.
  • Make flexible payments
    Open a personal pension plan with us from as little as £1. Plus, you can start, stop, or change payments to your pension plan online at any time. 
  • No surprise charges
    We have one transparent charge to cover everything – that means no hidden charges.


The information here is based on our understanding August 2023 and shouldn’t be taken as financial advice.

A pension is an investment and its value can go down as well as up and may be worth less than was paid in.

Your own personal circumstances, including where you live in the UK, will have an impact on the tax you pay. Laws and tax rules may change in the future.

Share via

Related Articles