Retirement planning Where to begin?

25 April 2023

It’s never too early or too late to start planning for retirement – but there’s certainly a lot to think about. Private pensions, workplace pensions, how much you’re saving, which investments you’re choosing…

Planning ahead for you or your loved ones is a wise idea but how can you possibly predict things like how much care you’ll need as you grow old? Whilst it’s easy to put this planning off, a financial assessment’s a great starting point (don’t worry – as a trusted financial adviser, we can help you with that).

There are many things you can do right now that’ll have a big impact on how much you’ll have at your disposal when you retire.

  1. Invest your savings and profits

If you’ve got spare income or profits from your business, it’s a good idea to put it into your pension. It’s one of the most tax-efficient ways of investing it.

  1. Claim pension tax relief

You can claim tax relief on your pension contributions into UK registered pension schemes. Depending on how you make contributions, the pension tax relief you’re entitled to might be done for you by your pension provider, or you may have to claim some or all of the tax relief through your Self-Assessment tax return or business tax return. If in doubt, talk to us.

  1. Transfer to a Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) or Small, Self-Administered Scheme (SSAS)

By transferring to a SIPP, which works in a similar way to standard personal pensions, you’ll be presented with a much wider range of investment options to choose from such as company shares (UK and overseas), open-ended investment companies (OEICs), investment trusts, or commercial property and land. ‘SSAS’ is a scheme aimed at pensions for small business owners as this type of pension’s linked to a company.

  1. Make Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs)

By making extra contributions to a defined benefit pension scheme (also often known as a ‘final salary scheme’), you’ll build up benefits for retirement and receive tax relief on those contributions (up to certain limits). Plus, you’ll have the flexibility to stop or change the amounts you contribute over time.

  1. Spread your hard-earned money 

Diversification’s a fancy term for spreading your money between different types of investments, e.g. company shares, property, and bonds. It’s essentially a way to help protect your pension fund against investments falling in value. Of course, there’s always ‘risk’ when investing, which is why taking proper advice is really important.

  1. Don’t withdraw if you can help it

If you’re contributing to a pension, try not to make withdrawals. Once you take money out beyond just your tax-free cash allowance, the maximum you can save into one drops from £60,000 to £10,000 a year.

Do you know how much pension you’ll get when you retire? 

You can use a pension calculator to give you a rough estimate of what your retirement finance looks like, but as there are complex matters at play and it varies person to person, it’s sensible you speak with a reputable financial advisor who can go into much more detail for a more accurate calculation.

What else do you need to consider as part of your retirement planning?


The State Pension’s an important part of society, providing financial security to everyone in later life. Check your State Pension age – that’s when you can start receiving your State Pension (it can differ to workplace or personal pensions).

The amount you’ll receive depends on how many years you’ve paid National Insurance Contributions (NICs). In some circumstances, if eligible to do so, it may be beneficial to pay voluntary contributions to fill any gaps in your record, or manually claim NI credits to apply for a year.

If you were a man born after 6th April 1951, or a woman born after 6th April 1953 – you’ll be eligible for the new State Pension which is £203.85 per week.

If you reached State Pension age before 6th April 2016 – you’ll receive the Basic State Pension (£156.20 per week) which has different rules.

Good to know – if you’re over State Pension age and on a low income, you could be entitled to receive Pension Credit to help with living or housing costs.

Whilst the State Pension provides the foundation for your retirement income, saving into a workplace pension or personal pension puts you in a much more comfortable position to achieve the dream retirement you want.


If you’ve been saving into a defined contribution pension scheme, you’ll need to think about how you’re going to use it in the most tax-efficient way (this doesn’t include your government-provided State Pension).

Do you have multiple pensions and know where they all are? If you’ve held multiple jobs, it’s likely you’ve got different pensions with different providers, so you’ll need to track down any lost pensions and think about whether you want to combine them into one. To access your pension savings, you must have reached a certain minimum pension age set by your pension fund provider which is usually 55 years old.

You’re free to choose how you use your pension pot/s, but each option comes with rules, fees, benefits, risks, and tax complications.


 If you’re over 55, own your own home and want some extra cash to achieve a more comfortable retirement, equity release is an option. This involves releasing money from your home whilst you’re still living there and you don’t need to have paid off your mortgage to do this.

You can take released money in one lump sum or in smaller amounts over time (otherwise known as ‘drawdown’) – or a combination of both.

As with any financial decision, it comes with risk. You may need to sell or downsize to actually release the money and the value of your home can go up or down, meaning you can’t be certain of its future value. Tax will need to be paid on the income too.

It’s also important to note, if you’re passing on your assets to heirs, pension equity release generally means there’ll be less for them to inherit.

Still don’t know where to begin? 

When it comes to retirement planning there’s a lot to consider, that’s for sure. But at Fortus we’ll help you understand all the retirement options available, recommend the most appropriate pension plan (or amendments to your existing pension), as well as consider allowances, tax implications and other retirement-related planning affairs. 

You’ll find we’ll explain things in a straight-forward manner, advising on how you can make your money work harder, so you can focus on enjoying life to the full.

Create your dream retirement. Talk to us today.

An important note: the value of investments can go up and down, so you may not get back what you invest, plus, tax treatment depends on individual circumstances and tax rules may change in the future. Content correct at time of publishing.