With a defined contribution pension, you build up a pot of money that you can then use to provide an income in retirement. Unlike defined benefit schemes, which promise a specific income, the income you might get from a defined contribution scheme depends on factors including the amount you pay in, the fund’s investment performance and the choices you make at retirement.
A defined benefit pension scheme is one where the amount paid to you is set using a formula based on by how many years you’ve worked for your employer and the salary you’ve earned rather than the value of your investments. If you work or have worked for a large employer or in the public sector, you may have a defined benefit pension.
A personal pension is a type of defined contribution pension. You choose the provider and make arrangements for your contributions to be paid. If you haven’t got a workplace pension, getting a personal pension could be a good way of saving for retirement.
Providing greater flexibility with the investments you can choose
A self-invested personal pension (SIPP) is a pension ‘wrapper’ that holds investments until you retire and start to draw a retirement income. It is a type of personal pension and works in a similar way to a standard personal pension. The main difference is that with a SIPP, you have greater flexibility with the investments you can choose.
Under the pension freedoms rules introduced in April 2015, once you reach the age of 55, you can now take your entire pension pot as cash in one go if you wish. However, if you do this, you could end up with a large tax Income Tax bill and run out of money in retirement. It’s essential to obtain professional advice before you make any major decisions about how to access your pension pot.
A regular retirement income for the rest of your life
One way to use your pension pot is to buy an annuity. This gives you a regular retirement income, usually for the rest of your life. In most cases, this is a one-off, irreversible decision, so it’s crucial to choose the right type and get the best deal you can.
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