Whether you’re a long way off retirement or you’re already taking money from your pension plan, there are things you can do to help get the most out of your pension savings. Since it’s Pension Engagement Season, now might be the perfect time to take these simple steps.
1. Brush up on your pension knowledge
The more you know about pensions, the easier it can be for you to make informed choices about your own pension plan.
There are plenty of free online resources to help you get to grips with pensions. Our pension basics can help you understand what types of pension plans are available, how and when you could take your pension savings and even how you can get tax benefits on your pension payments. MoneyHelper, backed by the government, also provides clear guidance on your money and pension choices, explaining what you need to do and how you can do it.
You can also browse our MoneyPlus articles, which cover plenty of pension-related topics.
2. Download an app or register for online servicing
Keeping an eye on your pension savings doesn’t have to mean setting aside lots of time or sitting down with a stack of documents. Using apps or online servicing can be a quick, easy way to look at your pension savings – and you can do this on the go. There are often other things you can do online or through apps, such as making pension payments or updating your details.
If you’re a Standard Life customer, you can manage your pension plan in various ways on our app, or you could register for our online servicing.
3. Check your beneficiary information is up to date
Your pension savings aren’t normally covered by your will, so your pension provider ultimately decides who receives them when you die. However, depending on the type of pension plan you have, you can usually name the people you want your money to go to. These are known as your beneficiaries. Your pension provider will take your wishes into account, but they cannot be bound by them.
If you’ve already nominated your beneficiaries, you should review them regularly and update this information if your wishes change. For example, someone may want to change their beneficiaries after remarrying or having children. Keeping this information up to date can help make sure your money goes to the people you want it to.
You might need to ask your pension provider for a beneficiary nomination form. Or you may be able to name and update beneficiaries online, as you can with some Standard Life pensions by logging in or using our app.
4. Check on your investments
It’s important to look at where the money in your pension plan is invested – whether you’ve chosen those investments yourself or someone else has done the work for you. If you’re a long way from retirement, you might be happy to take more risks with your pension investments as you won’t be accessing your savings for a while. But if you’re nearing retirement or taking money from your pension plan already, you may want to take less risk. Whatever your situation, it’s important you feel comfortable with your investments and that they match up with your goals.
You can take our risk questionnaire to see how much risk you might be comfortable taking when it comes to your investments.
Remember, your pension is an investment. Its value can go down as well as up and could be worth less than was paid in.
5. Check you’re getting everything you’re entitled to
If you’re saving for retirement, you could check that you’re making the most of your pension plan’s benefits. For example, if you’re over the age of 22 but under State Pension age, you’re likely to have been automatically enrolled in a workplace pension scheme. In this case, your employer normally needs to pay in a minimum of 3% of your earnings, while your minimum payment is usually 5%. Some employers are willing to pay in more than the 3% minimum, and some might match your payments up to a certain amount – so if you put in more, they will as well. It’s worth checking with your employer to see what’s possible. This could help you increase the money saved into your pension plan.
You can read more about workplace pensions on GOV.UK.
6. Use a tool or calculator
There are lots of free resources available online that can make it easier to plan for life after work. Using these might help you decide how best to manage your pension savings.
With our pension calculator, you can check how much money your pension pot might contain in the future and see if this figure matches up with your retirement goals.
We also have a tool that lets you compare different ways to take your pension money.
7. Make sure your personal information is correct
Only 1 in 25 people would think to tell their pension provider when they move home. If your contact details are out of date, your pension provider might not be able to get in touch with you, and you could lose track of your pension plan. You probably don’t want to miss out on any money or spend time tracing your pensions. Making sure your information is accurate is a good way to avoid this.
If you’re a Standard Life customer, you can update your details on our app.
You might consider combining your pensions to keep track of them. This involves bringing multiple pension pots together. Our website has more information on transferring pension plans, and you also can read our article on combining pensions. Keep in mind transferring isn’t right for everyone.
The information in this article is based on our understanding in October 2022 and should not be regarded as financial advice.
Standard Life accepts no responsibility for information in external websites. These are provided for general information.