A new type of retiree

First post-war ‘baby boomers’ pass the old Default Retirement Age of 65

Securing your eventual financial independence in retirement requires making sure that your plans enable you to achieve this goal. Whatever provision you already have in place must be regularly updated as your circumstances and requirements change, and you need to ensure that you are still saving enough. But for many retirees’ the future looks less certain.

The UK is witnessing the march of a new type of retiree as the first post-war ‘baby boomers’ pass the old Default Retirement Age of 65. According to Aviva’s latest Real Retirement Report, more than one in three (39 per cent) over-55s are continuing to receive a wage and nearly half are intent on using their extra earnings to travel more when they finish full-time work.

Data from the latest census in 2011 showed there
were 754,800 people aged 64 in England and Wales, and almost 6.5 million people are turning 65 over the next decade compared with 5.2 million in the previous decade. The spike is due to the post-war birth rate soaring when the armed forces returned from the Second World War, with the new-born generation dubbed the ‘baby boomers’.

Pushing back the boundaries
Allied with improved health care, more people are remaining active as they approach retirement age, and the report shows how they are pushing back the boundaries at work and in their leisure time.  23 per cent of 65- to 74-year-olds were still wage earners in December 2012, compared with 18 per cent when the report first launched almost three years ago in February 2010.

Fuelling the rise of income and savings
With 55 per cent of 55- to 64-year-olds also still in employment, compared with 41 per cent in February 2010, this trend looks set to continue as more baby boomers pass the age of 65. It has already fuelled the rise of income and savings among over-55s during the last three years. The typical over-55 now has an income of £1,444 each month along with £14,544 in savings (December 2012), compared with a monthly income of £1,239 and savings of £11,590 in February 2010.

Enjoying the fruits of your labour
Despite 80 per cent being concerned by rising living costs over the next six months (December 2012), the UK’s over-55s are determined to enjoy the benefits of extending their working lives. Nearly half (44 per cent) plan to use their extra time in retirement to travel more, while 42 per cent are focused on spending more time in their gardens.

Socialising is high on the agenda for many over-55s in retirement, with 37 per cent planning to invest extra time in their families and 33 per cent keen to socialise more with friends.

The most common motivation
They also have philanthropic intent: two-thirds (66 per cent) of over-55s would be interested in carrying out charity work or volunteering once they have retired. The most common motivation is to give something back to the community (49 per cent) and to stay active by getting out of the house (48 per cent).

A new model for later life
It’s clear that the first baby boomers are setting out a new model for later life, and getting the most out of their improved physical health and the freedom to continue working for longer. Many people find that staying active in a job helps to keep them young at heart – with the bonus being that it boosts their earning and savings potential in the process.

The key to making the most of this opportunity is for people to start planning for their 60s and beyond well in advance. In this way, rather than accepting the old retirement stereotypes, you can have the freedom of choice about whether you continue to work or not, rather than feeling forced to carry on out of the demand to meet financial commitments.

Flexible for the future
Everyone enjoys using their wealth in different ways. For you, it might be the joy of travel, helping others through philanthropy, sharing your success with family and friends or your passion for collecting. It might be the simple freedom to do what you want, when you want. Whatever your priorities, we can help you use your wealth by ensuring it’s working for you now and is structured to be flexible for the future.

Will your retirement strategy minimise potential taxes and duties on your death?

Immediate access to your pension funds, allowing you to take out what you want, when you want it

As your wealth grows, it is inevitable that your estate becomes more complex. With over 400,000 people now expected to reach age 75 each year [1], more and more people could be faced with a 55 per cent tax charge on any money left in their pension fund when they die.

Free of any death tax
Money saved via a pension can be passed on to a loved one, usually outside the pension holder’s estate and free of any death tax, provided the pension fund has not been touched and the pension holder dies before age 75. People fortunate enough not to need immediate access to their personal pension may therefore decide not to touch those savings for as long as possible.

However, once someone reaches age 75, the death benefit rules change dramatically and their entire pension fund may become subject to a 55 per cent tax charge on death. This means it can become a race against time for many individuals to reduce the impact of this charge.

Flexible drawdown lifeline
It can take years to move money out of the 55 per cent death tax environment using capped income withdrawals due to the set limits on the amount that can be withdrawn each year. A lifeline can, however, come in the form of flexible drawdown. Flexible drawdown can provide people with immediate access to their pension funds, allowing them to take out what they want, when they want it. Flexible drawdown is only available to people who are already receiving £20,000 p.a. minimum guaranteed pension income – which can include their state pension entitlement.

For individuals who wish to leave as much as possible to their beneficiaries, taking income from their pension and gifting it to their beneficiaries under the ‘normal expenditure’ rules will allow certain amounts of money to be passed to their beneficiaries outside their estate.

Passing money outside the estate
This may be more tax-efficient than suffering the 55 per cent death tax charge, or the 40 per cent inheritance tax charge if the money is simply brought into their estate. Any money taken out under flexible drawdown will be subject to income tax, so higher rate tax payers need to be careful to ensure the money is either passed on outside their estate tax-effectively or that their estate is within the annual IHT allowance of £325,000 (2012/13).

This may be particularly relevant for people who are approaching, or who have already reached, their 75th birthday, especially as many older pension arrangements will not allow pension savings to continue to be held beyond that date.

Younger people who have accessed their pension fund, even if it’s just to take the lump sum cash, could also be at risk of the 55 per cent death tax, and could benefit from moving funds out of this environment as efficiently as possible.

A bleak picture of people’s ability to cope with financial shocks

Are you prepared for the financial needs and challenges that may lie ahead in the future?

Almost 15 million people across the UK (31 per cent of the adult population) are not currently making any efforts to save for the future, while eight million people (17 per cent) have no savings to their name at all, according to Scottish Widows’ seventh annual Savings and Investment Report.

Managing to put something away

Although 63 per cent of Britons are managing to put something away, nearly a third (32 per cent) have a total pot of less than £1000, which is less than the UK average combined monthly mortgage and council tax costs (£1009). In addition, almost one in five of those who expect their financial priorities to change are seriously concerned about job security
for the coming year.

These statistics paint a bleak picture of people’s ability to cope with financial shocks that could hit now or in the future.

Families shoulder the burden
A 25 per cent of respondents with families have loaned ‘a substantial amount’ to their children, often to simply help them meet daily living expenses. Support is also provided for higher education and property purchases, with an average loan of almost £15,000 – an 11 per cent increase from the amount reported last year.

Interestingly, when asked what they’d rather give their children money for, parents opted for helping them get on to the housing ladder (63 per cent) over university fees (21 per cent).

A stark impact on parents’ finances
This level of support is having a stark impact on parents’ finances with a quarter (24 per cent) cutting back on their savings and almost one in ten (8 per cent) stopping saving altogether.

However, it isn’t just parents funding their children; whole families are pulling together to support each other. The report shows that grandparents are helping their grandchildren; children are lending money to their parents, and siblings are also supporting each other. Specifically, on average grandparents have lent £3,665 to their grandchildren, 6 per cent have lent to their parents with an average amount of £4,371 exchanging hands and 9 per cent of people have lent an average £3,485 to their sibling.

The savings shortfall spiral
The wider economic climate is also increasing the pressure on those struggling to save. 30 per cent of people report that they have been forced to cut back on their savings by rising costs, whilst a further 27 per cent are saving less than two years ago, principally due to a lower level of disposable income. Across the board, the majority (64 per cent) of people report that having no money available is a major barrier to saving.

Importance of building a safety NET
People clearly recognise the importance of saving something towards their future financial wellbeing, which is encouraging. The importance of building a safety net for themselves and their families is a priority, with 63 per cent of people reporting that they managed to save some money in the last 12 months. However, just a quarter of those people believed they were saving enough to meet their long-term needs, with a further 37 per cent saying they would definitely not be achieving this goal.

When we are faced with immediate financial commitments, such as mortgage payments and day to day living expenses, then it is absolutely necessary to give these pressing needs priority. However, taking a wholly short-term view of our finances will mean we are unprepared for the financial needs and challenges that lie ahead in the future.

How to make the most of your pension

Take a look at our checklist to see how we could help you

The closer you get to retirement, the greater the need to preserve your savings and ensure they will last all through your retirement. In addition, you’ll need to consider whether you need to make changes to your investments as you approach retirement.

With less than five years to go before retirement, there is still a lot you could do to maximise your eventual pension income. Take a look at our checklist to see how we could help you make the most of your pension pot.

Checklist in the run-up to your retirement

Request up-to-date statements for your personal and company pensions

Get an up-to-date state pension forecast at direct.gov.uk

Trace any lost pensions through the Pension Tracing Service at direct.gov.uk

Include any investments and savings when assessing your retirement income

Seek professional financial advice if there’s a significant shortfall, as delaying or phasing retirement could be an option

Reduce any potential investment risk to protect your pension from any downturns in the stock market as you approach retirement

If possible, augment your pension by increasing your contributions and/or adding lump sum payments

Take advantage of any unused pension tax allowance. Current rules allow you to carry unused allowances forward for three years

Think about whether you want to take your pension as an annuity or through income drawdown

If you want to take an annuity, decide which type. An annuity can, for example, increase by a set percentage or be linked to the rate of inflation

Look at impaired life annuities if you have any serious health issues

If appropriate, consider consolidating your pension or pensions to a Self-Invested
Personal Pension (SIPP) if you want to take income drawdown

Consider whether you want to take 25 per cent of your pension pot as a tax-free lump sum and think about how you might use this money

Write a will or review any existing will you have in place

Check what will happen to your pension if you die

Assess the value of your estate for inheritance tax (IHT) purposes and consider ways to reduce a potential liability

Seek professional financial advice if the value of your estate is significantly higher than the nil rate IHT band (currently £325,000) or your financial affairs are complicated ν

All figures relate to the 2012/13 tax year. A pension is a long-term investment, and the fund value may fluctuate and can go down. Your eventual income may depend upon the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates and tax legislation. The Financial Services Authority does not regulate estate planning, wills or trusts.

The child benefit tax charge

The child benefit tax charge, introduced on 7 January, affects over one million families

A family with 2 children could soon see their annual spendable income drop by up to £1,752 p.a. in 2013/14, while those with 3 children could lose £2,449 pa. With prices rising faster than incomes, it is imperative for many families to know how they will be affected, and what options are available to help improve their situation.

What are the implications of the tax charge?
Benefit payments will continue to be paid in full to the claimant, but if the household’s highest earner’s personal taxable income exceeds £50,000 per tax year then the amount will be clawed back by way of a tax charge. Once taxable income exceeds £60,000 in a tax year, the charge will be 100 per cent of the benefit claimed i.e. the value of the benefit is wiped out. For incomes between £50,000 and £60,000, the tax charge is 1 per cent for every £100 income exceeds the £50,000 threshold. Overall, these people will benefit, as the tax charge will always be less than the benefit claimed.

For the 2012/13 tax year, the tax charge will never exceed 25 per cent of the yearly benefit claimed as the tax charge will only have been operational for one quarter of the current tax year. As such, the tax will be limited to £438 where benefit is being claimed for 2 children, or £612 for 3 children. Around 500,000 people will need to complete a tax return for the first time. The tax charge will be collected under self assessment; therefore, for those submitting online, the first return will need to be in by 31 January 2014. It is important to note that failure to do so could result in fines and late payment penalties.

What action can be taken?
This will very much depend on an individual’s personal circumstances and priorities. Making an individual pension contribution to reduce income to below £50,000 would wipe out the child benefit tax charge altogether, while higher rate tax relief would also be available on the contribution if it all falls in the higher rate band. Any contribution reducing income to a level between £50,000 and £60,000 will still result in a surplus of child benefit over the tax charge, and a tax return would still need to be completed.

A pension contribution by salary sacrifice is an alternative way of reducing taxable income. With the employer’s agreement, an employee can reduce their contractual income in return for an equivalent employer payment to their pension. The employee will also save NI at 2 per cent for payments over the upper earnings limit – if the employer agrees to pass their 13.8 per cent NI saving on to the pension then the contribution itself can be increased. Another alterative is to simply continue claiming the benefit and paying the tax, which is a more likely consideration for those families where the higher earner has adjusted net income between £50,000 and £60,000, when the benefit will still exceed the tax charge.