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Making your pension savings last when markets are volatile

MoneyPlus Features Team

With the coronavirus causing considerable volatility in financial markets, many people are likely to be feeling anxious about the value of their pension savings falling and may even be re-thinking their retirement plans. But what if you’re already taking money from your pension savings? How can you help make sure your money lasts?

The challenge: how to help protect and grow the value of your pension savings when you’re already taking money and markets are volatile.

Falls in the market are unavoidable – they’re part and parcel of investing – and it’s natural to be worried about the effect these will have on your pension savings. But there are some things you can consider during these turbulent times which could help your pension savings last.

When you take your money matters

Taking money from your pension savings often involves taking out small amounts at regular intervals – a bit like paying yourself a salary.

But if you do this when markets are falling, that amount becomes a larger proportion of your overall pension savings. Think about it like taking the same size slice from a smaller pie.

Once you’ve taken it out, you’ll have less money invested to potentially recover losses if and when markets (and your investments) rise again. And this might affect how long your money lasts.

Could you take less at the moment?

So consider taking less from your pension savings at the moment if you can, or use other savings or sources of income if you have them. You can read more about this in our article 5 tips if you’ve started taking money from your pension

Check where you’re invested – this may have an impact on how long your pension savings last

Research suggests that the returns you make on your investments in the first few years after starting to take money from your pension savings could have the biggest impact on how long they’ll last.

So, if the value of your pension savings falls in the early years, it’s harder for investment growth to make up these losses in later years. That’s why it’s so important to regularly review your pension investments to make sure they’re doing what you expect.

Although changing your investments now, while markets are volatile, may mean that you lock in some losses, it’s still a good time to review your investments to make sure they remain right for you and your long-term plans.

If you have a Standard Life pension plan, you can check where you’re invested by logging in to our online service.

It’s about balance – help protect and grow

It generally makes sense to have a good mix of investments that can help protect the money you need to take from your pension savings in the short term, while also giving the growth that can help the rest of your pension savings last for as long as you need them to. This usually means having a mix of lower and medium risk investments – but this can vary depending on your individual circumstances.

Want more help?

Consider speaking to a financial adviser. It could make a big difference to your money and your peace of mind. Although there’s likely to be a cost, it could save you money in the long run.

If you don’t have an adviser, you can find one in your area at

You can also get free and impartial guidance from Pension Wise.

We also have a Q&A available which answers some of the questions our customers have been asking during this time, which you may find helpful.


Your pension’s invested to help it grow. That means its value can go down as well as up and it may be worth less than was paid in. Investment returns aren’t guaranteed.

You could run out of money depending on the level of withdrawals, investment performance or if you live longer than you expect.

The information here is based on our understanding in May 2020 and should not be regarded as financial advice.