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The risks of failing to check your target retirement date

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Over-45s aren't making plans to match their future ambitions, according to research from life savings company Standard Life.

While the vast majority (86%) of those aged 45 or over have dreamed about escaping their working life and retiring, only 8% of the same age group have recently checked the retirement date on their pension plans to make sure it is still in line with their plans.

Over half (56%) don’t have a clear idea when they want to retire, and only one in ten (10%) have worked out how much income they’ll need when they decide to stop working. While this may mean some people are saving more than they need, the majority may be saving too little. It will also affect the amount of risk you take with your investments.

Even older generations aren’t clear on their retirement data. Only a fifth (17%) of those aged between 55-64 have recently checked to see if the retirement date on their pension policy still fits with their plans.

Jamie Jenkins, head of pensions strategy at Standard Life, said “Some people will have set their retirement date when they were in their 20s or 30s and a great deal will have changed since then, including their State Pension age and perhaps their career plans. It may seem like a finger in the air guess when you’re younger, but the date that you set for retirement on a pension plan does matter. It will often dictate how your money is being invested and the communications you receive as you get nearer to that date.

“Reviewing your retirement date regularly as you get older makes real sense and most modern pension plans enable you to change and update this date whenever you choose. It needn’t be the same as your State Pension age, you might want to work longer, or retire earlier.

Reasons to keep your retirement plans up to date

Standard Life gives these four reasons:

  • Right support, right time: If the date you plan to retire changes or you simply want to take some of your pension without stopping working, it’s important to tell your pension company. Otherwise you may not receive information and support about your pending retirement at the most helpful times.
  • De-risking investments: Some investment options will start to move your pension savings into lower risk investments as you get closer to retirement. If you don’t have the right retirement date on your plan, you could be moving into these investments at the wrong time. For example if you move into them too early, you could potentially miss out on investment returns which could increase the value of your pension savings. Move too late, and you could be exposing your life savings to unnecessary risk.
  • Investment pot: The size of the pension pot you need to build up to maintain your lifestyle when you come to retire will depend on when you plan to do so.
  • Income: If you’re planning to buy an annuity at retirement, which will guarantee you an income for the rest of your life, the amount of income you’ll get will depend on the size of your pot and annuity rates at that time.

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