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Retirement planning

It is often difficult to envisage retiring when you are in your thirties or forties. But it’s worth seriously considering the fact that the longer you are able to save for retirement, the lower the amounts you will need to set aside.

Retirement is a ‘life event’ encouraged by the government through tax incentives, though these reliefs have been reduced in recent years. In reality, the definition of retirement is changing all the time as the population ages and traditional perceptions are challenged. What role can insurances play? Should you save through life assurance as well as a pension, or will either suffice? A professional adviser can simplify the choices and offer advice tailored to your particular circumstances.

Briefing papers:

Pension

We are living longer, yet the contribution the government makes to its senior citizens is decreasing, and the age at which we are entitled to receive a state pension is increasing. Meanwhile, private sector employers have closed final salary pension schemes in favour of defined contribution schemes. These trends mean we should be making increased contributions to pension schemes to ensure our retirement is not a steady decline into poverty.

ICAEW Chartered Accountants operate at the leading edge of financial thinking and are well placed to track this complex and constantly evolving subject. Firms offering pensions advice must be regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA), meaning that they must follow certain rules and standards when dealing with you. There are several ways you can find a professional financial adviser, including searching online, checking the FSA register or talking to an ICAEW Chartered Accountant. They can give you access to practical advice on a wide range of subjects, including:

Personal pensions – is this the right choice for you? Your personal and professional circumstances will greatly influence your options and you may need help navigating the many products on offer.

Stakeholder pensions – is this more secure, more flexible variation on the personal pension the smart option? Again, it’s a question of evaluating your circumstances and thinking ahead.

Company pensions – is yours a salary related scheme or a money purchase scheme? Do you know where you stand today, and what to do if you leave your company? And what if your employer does not offer a company pension scheme at all?

Self Invested Personal Pensions (SIPP) – a personal pension for the self employed, SIPPs offer unique benefits, but also come with their own risks and tax implications.

The state pension – most people build up some state pension, but the amount they will receive varies. It is worth understanding how you build up state pension and how much income it will provide in later life.

UK pension rules and tax relief – changes to the rules governing pensions allow many people to pay more into their pension schemes, and on more flexible terms than previously. Are you up to speed with contribution limits, tax relief, and annual and lifetime allowances?

Planning your pension can be a complex and daunting prospect. If you’re seeking pensions advice, a chat with an ICAEW Chartered Accountant will help put the subject in perspective.

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Insurance

Accident insurance, life assurance and a pension are essential parts of the financial protection every family should have. An ICAEW Chartered Accountant can provide advice on a suitable financial package to meet the needs of your pocket, your family and your personal tax position.

For private individuals, the most popular insurance types are:

  • Car insurance.
  • Home – buildings, contents or mortgage protection cover.
  • Travel insurance.
  • Accident and sickness insurance.
  • Critical illness cover.
  • Health insurance.
  • Cover for credit card loss.

Perhaps the ultimate form of insurance is life assurance, which protects your dependents from financial hardship in the event of your death. This requires a careful assessment of your needs and circumstances before selecting either a protection or an investment policy. For advice on insurance products, you should refer to an adviser approved by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) or by a Recognised Designatory Body such as ICAEW.

Some chartered accountants are qualified to give this advice. In other cases, their expertise is helpful in assessing the levels of cover you will need, taking into account your personal circumstances and family commitments.

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