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Two-Thirds Reduction in Annuity Sales

Standard Life has seen a 66% reduction in sales of its annuity products since the government’s pension reforms in April.

The UK insurer forecast that its full-year contribution from new annuity sales would drop by some £10m to £15m, while reporting a rise in inquiries from customers holding annuities about buying into alternative products.

The FT also reports that the company is looking at further potential changes to the pension system later this year –

The insurer is nevertheless weighing up a host of further regulatory changes that could affect its UK business. For example, the Conservative government is removing pension tax breaks for people earning above £110,000 a year, reducing their incentive to save money for retirement… The government will also report in December on a broader examination of pensions tax relief that could result in an end to tax relief on pension contributions, replacing it with tax-free withdrawals for pensioners under a system more in line with individual savings accounts (Isas).

Martin Smith
written by Martin Smith

Government to Cap Exit Fees

The government is planning to set a “cap” on the maximum fee that pensions companies can charge customers who want to leave their pension scheme early. Professional Adviser magazine reports that a new Treasury Whitepaper proposes three ways to impose such a cap –

“A Treasury consultation paper, released today, said the government was considering three options – introducing a cap on all excessive early exit fees; a flexible cap in certain circumstances; and a voluntary approach to restricting exit fees and charges… The consultation said, despite limited consistent research across the market on exit fees, information collated by the Department for Work and Pension found as many as one in ten savers in workplace schemes could be “affected by charges when transferring their pension”. …The paper said: “Although many of these individuals will face charges that represent fair and reasonable charges to cover costs, the government believes there is a high degree of overlap between transfer fees and exit charges and in the case of the latter would like to understand, in particular, whether and why some charges may be significantly higher than others.”.. The Treasury also said there was evidence pointing to a “particular issues” concerning certain pension products sold in the 1980s and 1990s.”

Martin Smith
written by Martin Smith

ISAs And Pensions Could Merge?

Could the UK’s two main methods of saving money (ISAs and pensions) soon be merged by the current government? Recently The Week speculated on possible plans by Baroness Ros Altmann, the new Pensions Minister –

“The idea sounds far-fetched, but an article written by new pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann suggests that combining the two could soon be supported by the government. In a piece for the trade magazine Employee Benefits, written before her appointment, Baroness Altmann stated that savers should be offered “other forms of saving alongside pensions” in order to encourage people to put more money aside… It’s an idea that has long been championed by Michael Johnson, a fellow at the Centre for Policy Studies think tank. The Financial Times says a new paper today echoes a call in several others published over the past three years to merge the Isa and pension regimes and radically simplify tax reliefs available.”

Martin Smith
written by Martin Smith

Women Have Lower Pensions Than Men

On average, women save 38% less for their retirement than men – and the gap between the sexes has widened in recent years – according to a new article in the Guardian. The article reports on the findings of a recent study by Scottish Life –

“Worse still, 21% of women have no pension savings, compared with 9% of men who are relying solely on state provision, according to a separate study by Prudential. Low pay still experienced by women is a contributing factor towards the worrying gap between how much men and women save for retirement. It may also be a challenge for women who take time out of work to raise a family to save throughout their lives for retirement. Yet with life expectancy for women still longer than men, at an average of 79.5 for men and 83.3 for women, there is a stark need for women to save more, and to make plans and provisions in the event that they are left alone.”

Martin Smith
written by Martin Smith

Tax on Pension Release – How Much Wil You Pay?

Are you thinking of withdrawing cash from your pension early? Do you know how much tax you have to pay under the new pension rules?

The Telegraph has an article, outlining the rules :-

“From April, you will be able to use your pension like a bank account, with the option to take either the whole lot out at once or small sums at regular intervals. A maximum of 25pc of your pension can be taken tax-free. You can take it all immediately or the first 25pc of each withdrawal can be tax free.

If you take all of your pension savings at once, the remaining 75pc will be taxed at your usual rate of income tax.

This means that if you have a £200,000 pension you can take £50,000 tax-free, but the remaining £150,000 will be treated as income for that tax year, meaning a great deal of tax would be taken at the higher rate.”

Remember, if you are unsure about releasing money from your pension, take independent financial advice from a qualified adviser (IFA).

Martin Smith
written by Martin Smith

Counting your assets whilst you can

Counting your assets while you can

There is no doubt that, under the current economic climate, folk are increasingly finding it hard to make ends meet. With wage freezes (which is effectively a pay cut!) rising prices (especially fuel duty) the family’s budget is under increasing pressure.

And, on top of that, there are the unexpected bills that come in. Things like car repairs or even an unexpected tax bill.

With all these costs going up and the possibility of income going down, what can you do? As any good accountant would suggest, you need to analyse your expenditure whilst maximising your revenues.

Tighten your belt (Analyse your expenditure)

You could always look at reducing your expenditure. This could look at exactly how you spend your money and on what. So, for example, you could shop at a cheaper supermarket. You could walk to the shops instead of taking the car (And be greener and fitter in the process!)

In short you could take a good long hard look at the money you’re spending and see if it’s really necessary or if there are cheaper alternatives.

Maximising your revenues

You might want to go to your boss and demand a pay rise! However, in reality this isn’t going to wash! You could think of getting a different or a second job. But, again, in reality for most this is not an option. So what could you do?

Sell, sell, sell!

You may also want to consider liquefying your assets. This process could look at all the assets you have and the amount of money you could raise.

You may have a drawer full of old jewellery that you’re never going to wear or a collection of broken jewellery. The good news is that (at the time of writing) prices for precious metals are at a relatively high rate. And selling them couldn’t be easier! The Internet is full of sites that will offer great rates for metals.

You could look and see if there are any stocks and shares that you have. Again there are lots of sites on the Internet that can sell your shares for you.

You could go ebay crazy! Get everything together that you no longer need and try to sell them via ebay. The process is relatively simple and could offer a good return.

Your pension could be the answer!

You may look at your pension pot as a source of funds. Getting at those funds can be difficult. It can be dependant on things like your age, state of health and the type of pension you hold. It certainly isn’t as easy as getting money out of the bank!

However, the really great news is that you’re reading this from a source that could help you! All you have to do is fill out the form at the top of the page and click ‘send’. You details will then be passed onto an appropriate expert who will then guide you through the process. Simple. Do what most people do and fill in the form today. It might just be your first step towards withdrawing your funds.

Alternatively ….

You could look down the back of the sofa! Whilst this may not offer a great return you will almost certainly find wealth that you didn’t know you had!

Martin Smith
written by Martin Smith

Is it possible to sell a pension?

Is it possible to sell a pension?

You might think that just like any other financial asset you can sell your pension. After all it is just a financial vehicle at the end of the day, isn’t it?

However, at the time of writing, it is just not possible to effectively sell your pension.

If you can’t sell a pension what can you do?

Thankfully there are alternatives to selling a pension. At the end of the day you just want to turn your pension fund into cash right? If that is your goal then there are a number of ways that you might be able to achieve that target.

Exactly how you can achieve this may depend on your circumstances. Factors like your age, state of health and how your pension(s) are invested may all be factors.

However, one way might be by pension release. This is where you could be able to effectively cash in your pension and turn it into hard cash.

Another way might be by a pension loan. Using this methodology you get a loan against your pension fund.

You can begin your journey by filling in the form at the top of this page.

Why are people looking to cash in their pension fund?

You might have got a statement from your pension provider telling you that you have x thousands of pounds in your pension. You might have also been told that this fund is projected to grow to y thousands of pounds and as such you’ll get z thousands of pounds per year when you retire.

Obviously the exact amounts of x, y and z vary tremendously from person to person.

Normally the value of x and y – your pension funds value today and the expected value when you finally retire – can be in the tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds.

However, the value of z – the amount you’re projected to receive in pension payments per year when you do retire – is, often, ridiculously low.

It is possibly for this reason that people are looking to cash in their pensions. After all what is a small amount per month worth when you retire compared to having tens or hundreds of thousands of pounds in your account right now?

What are people using the money for?

Here’s the real beauty of turning your pension fund into cash right now is that it is your money (Once you’ve got it) and as such you can use it as you like!

You might have done your sums and discovered that, if you use your pension fund to pay off your mortgage, you’ll be actually saving money in the long term.

You might use the funds to change your career path. Re-train into an occupation that will pay you more in the long term.

You might have looked at the overall performance of your pension fund and thought “I could do better myself”. In which case you’ll be drawing on your funds in order to get a better return.

Or, in the worse case scenario, you might be starring financial ruin in the face and your only source of funds is your pension pot.

How long does the process take?

Sadly getting the cash out of your pension fund isn’t as easy as cashing it in at an ATM. It takes anything from 3 to 6 months before you can actually have your pension fund as cash in your account.

The good news is that you can make your initial, no obligation enquiry, by filling out the form at the top of the page. It could just be your first step in the process.

Are there any downsides?

As with any financial transactions there are downsides. Firstly, as if to state the obvious, if you do cash in your pension early then there will be less for you to retire on, once you get to retirement age.

Secondly, depending on the liquidation method you use to access your pension fund, you might be getting a call from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). They may require you to pay tax on the amount you’ve drawn from your pension.

What can you do next?

Perhaps your first step is to fill in the form at the top of the page.

You might also wish to consider talking to an Independent Financial Advisor. These people can help you access other funds that, perhaps, you didn’t know you had.



Martin Smith
written by Martin Smith

Can a Pension Loan give access to the funds in your pension?

Can a Pension Loan give access to the funds in your pension?

For some people pension loans can be the ideal way to release funds from their pension. Generally, to qualify for a pension loan, you don’t have to ‘jump through the hoops’ the same way you do for a traditional loan.

This means that there may be no credit checks. No invasive questions into your current financial situation.

However, there might be other ways to release the funds from your pension.

It might be possible to gain access to the funds in your pension in other ways. One methodology some people have used to gain access to their pension is via pension release. Some may say that pension release is only possible if you’re over the age of 55. However, for many this is not the case.

For example: if you’re under 55 years of age and have a pension fund in excess of £50,000 it is very possible that you can release as much as 85% of the funds in your pension straight into your bank account. Money that you can spend in any way you like.

Find out if you qualify. Do what the majority of people who read this site do simply fill in the form at the top of the page. It could be the first step in your journey to getting access to the funds that you need.

What about the tax?

Certainly by looking to release the funds in your pension early then it is possible that the HMRC might be interested in your actions. It is not unknown for the HMRC to send you a hefty tax bill for releasing your pension funds early. And what could be more depressing than thinking you’ve got yourself a nice little nest egg only for it to be snatched away from you?

But there is some good news. By utilizing the right pension release programme it is possible that you can keep the majority of the funds to yourself. Certainly this is true if your pension fund is over £50,000. If this is you then complete the form at the top of the page – this will start your journey without obligation.

Why are people cashing in their pension?

The reasons people are keen to get at their pension funds early are individual as the people who apply for them.

For some people they are facing financial ruin right now – things like job loss, credit card bills, or even hefty tax bills that they cannot afford. Having a nice pension pot might be great for when they retire but if they can’t afford to live right now then what is the point?

Some are possibly watching the performance of their pensions and think “I could do better myself”. In this instance they are, perhaps, taking the money from their pensions and investing it in a vehicle that they think will out perform their existing pension fund.

Others might be watching what is happening in the financial sector. The banks losing money seemingly hand over fist. They might be thinking that their pension fund might be caught up in the process and, when it comes to withdrawing it, the funds simply won’t be there.

Whilst others are probably looking at the performance of the annuity market and consider that the traditional pension market simply isn’t producing results.

Whatever the reasons many people, just like you, are looking at withdrawing the funds from their pension.

What might happen if I cash in my pension early?

As mentioned above the HMRC might be interested in your actions. When you do come to retire you might find that you don’t have enough money to live on because you took your money out early. Certainly it will be a good idea to consult an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) these people maybe able to help you access funds that you previously thought were unavailable.

Certainly if you do have pension funds available AND access them in the most prudent way then you’ll have the funds in your bank to use as you wish.

What can I spend the money on?

The short answer is anything you like! It will be your money to use as you wish.

How long does the process of gaining access to the funds take?

Once you’ve agreed to the process and returned all the relevant paperwork then it can take anything from between 3 and 6 months for the final payment to reach you. Why does it take so long? There are various legal steps that need to be taken before you can get your money that’s why it can take so long.

Certainly, if speed of access to your funds is important to you, then you can take your first steps right now by filling in the form at the top of the page. That way you can begin the process.

Martin Smith
written by Martin Smith

Just What Is Pension Unlocking?

Just what is Pension Unlocking?

You might find that pension unlocking is a method of taking (in some cases) a tax-free lump sum in cash from your pension before you retire. It could provide you with a substantial lump sum. A lump sum that you’ll be free to spend however you choose.

You must be warned however, as pension unlocking could have a serious adverse impact on your income when you retire. Pension unlocking may not suitable for some people. This will almost certainly depend on your own particular circumstances.

You can begin your search for a source of potential pension unlocking by filling out the form at the top of this page.

Pension unlocking – what is it?

Are there any alternatives to pension unlocking?

From my pension fund how much can I unlock?

What are the potential implications for my retirement income?

Is it possible that pension unlocking is right for you?

Are there any potential implications against my state pension if I unlock?

What are the likely questions I need to ask?

What are the sources for further information?

Pension unlocking – what is it?

Unlocking your pension can be seen as a form of pension release. This basically means drawing the equity, in the form of cash, from your pension fund.

Exactly how this is achieved varies according to your own particular circumstances. For example: if you’re over 55 you maybe able to take 25% of your pension fund as a tax free lump sum. This is sometimes known as a pension commencement lump sum. It could be possible to do this without having to actually retire. You could then use this money to buy an annuity.

If you’re under 55 it may still be possible to withdraw the funds from your pension without having to take tax penalties. For example if you’re under 55 with a pension fund of £50,000 + it maybe possible for you to access as much as 85% of your fund. To discover if this applies to you fill out the form at the top of this page.

What is certainly true is that withdrawing your funds from your pension early will almost certainly reduce the amount of money available to you when you retire. However, if you are considering withdrawing the funds because you think that you’ve found a better investment vehicle then this should be of little concern to you.

Are there any alternatives to pension unlocking?

For many unlocking their pension is considered because they need the money. As such alternatives to funding could lie in vehicles such as:

Remortgaging their home

Selling other assets

Loan or debt consolidation

Family financial assistance

Selling business assets

However, for some people their pension fund is the only capital they have to raise funds against.

But it is not entirely all doom and gloom. Some people might have noticed that their pension fund is performing quite poorly. Further, because of the relatively poor performance of the annuity market, that their retirement income will be actually quite low. This, added to the financial instability around the globe, has lead them to think that they could make their pension fund work harder for them in other financial investments. For these people unlocking their pension fund is a very shrewd move.

From my pension fund how much can I unlock?

The short answer to this is that it depends. It depends on factors such as your age. Your general state of health. Your own particular circumstances. If you’re over 55 then getting as much as 25% from your pension fund can be relatively easy.

However, if you’re under 55 with a pension fund in excess of £50,000 it is possible that you could realise a full 85% of your total pension fund. To find out if you qualify simply fill in the form at the top of the page.

If you’re under 55 with a pension below £50,000 then it still might be possible to release some of your funds. Fill out the form at the top of the page to find out more.

What are the potential implications for my retirement income?

Obviously if you withdraw funds from your pension early you will almost certainly be reducing the amount of money you’ll receive when you do retire. For example: if you withdraw funds 15 years early you’ll not only getting a smaller income but you’ll also be losing out on the growth that fund would have accrued over those 15 years.

Certainly the Financial Services Authority (FSA) has warned that withdrawing funds from your pension early could have a detrimental effect on your retirement income.

Is it possible that pension unlocking is right for you?

The short answer is that it depends. You might have debt collectors knocking at your door. Your business might have a short-term cash flow problem that you cannot solve in any other way. You might have a credit card bill, with crippling charges, that you simply cannot clear. Basically an urgent need for funds. Then pension unlocking might be for you.

One thing you do have to bear in mind is that pension unlocking can take some considerable time. Typically this can be anything from 3 to 6 months. If you are considering unlocking your pension it might be a good idea to begin the process sooner rather than later. Thankfully you can begin the process by filling in the form at the top of the page. After all being forewarned is being forearmed.

Please do remember that releasing cash from your pension may seem like an extremely tempting option. But, before doing so, do think long and hard about it. It can have an impact on your long term financial future. If you do have any concerns you should definitely consider talking to an independent financial advisor.

Are there any potential implications against my state pension if I unlock?

If you do decide that releasing cash from your pension is actually for you then you can still continue to work. You don’t have to retire to release cash from your pension.

At the time of writing the value of your state pension should remain unaffected should you release funds from your pension early.

If, however, you are currently receiving state benefits – many of which are means tested. Then gaining access to your fund may affect the benefits you’re entitled to. Hence jeopardising the benefits you receive.

What are the likely questions I need to ask?

There are a range of questions you need to ask yourself before unlocking your pension. Some of which can be answered here. Others can only be answered by yourself.

The FSA identified four key questions:

How much cash do I actually need now?

Would I be better off borrowing the money?

Should I consider selling or cashing other investments assets?

If I cash in my pension funds now will I have enough to live on in retirement?

Other issues you might wish to consider include:

Does your pension have a guaranteed annuity at retirement? And, if so, how much would it be?

Does your pension have a provision for ill health or death benefits?

What are the likely penalties you might incur by unlocking your pension?

What is the possible impact on any state benefits you might be receiving?

Other issues you might wish to consider if you do decide to unlock your pension include:

What are the likely fees and charges associated with unlocking your pension?

Will the HMRC take an interest in any money you draw from your pension fund?

Thankfully these last two questions can be answered here. At the time of writing if your pension fund is over £50,000 you can access up to 90% of your pension fund and get it paid directly into your account. There is also a small administration fee payable and the remaining 10% is taken as charges. But the really good news is that, currently, whilst the HMRC are aware of the withdrawal and they do not place a tax on the process.

It must be noted that you should consider your options very carefully before considering cashing your pension in early. By unlocking your pension your retirement income will probably be considerably less than you could expect if you waited until your retirement date.

What are the sources for further information?

There are alternatives to pension unlocking. You may wish to access advice from the following sources:

Citizens Advice Bureaux

Advice UK

Citizens Advice Scotland

Consumer Credit Counselling Service

Money Advice Scotland

National Debt line

Financial Services Authority


Martin Smith
written by Martin Smith

Pension Loans, Cash in Pension Videos

Pension Loans and Cash In Pension

The market for Pension Loans can be confusing. To help you, two videos have been created. The first focuses on how you can unlock your pension funds. It might appear that, at first glance, any money in a pension is locked away. Only to be accessed once you’ve come of age or you’re in ill health. However, this might not necessarily be the case.

Watch the video here:

As you’ll learn this can unlock your frozen pension. Giving you access to funds that you might have considered locked away.

Cash in Pension

The second video in the series gives you an idea on how you can get cash from your pension. Again it is entirely possible to get cash from your pension. You just have to know the right steps to take. You can begin your journey by filling in the form or by watching the video and then fill in the form.

Watch the video here:

Which ever route you take be it pension loan, pension release or cash from your pension you can begin your search by filling in the form.

Martin Smith
written by Martin Smith