One in three retiring this year haven’t heard of changes less than a month away

The insurer’s eighth annual ‘Class of’ study, tracking the financial plans and aspirations of people who plan to retire this year, shows that substantial numbers of the ‘Class of 2015’ are in the dark about the changes to pensions regulation announced in the 2014 Budget. The pension reforms, which are now just days away from being implemented, will increase the choice of options for people seeking an income from their pension savings.

Those 2015 retirees who are aware that a broader range of retirement income options will be available to them from April, are already taking action. A third of those with pension schemes have already changed or will change their plans for taking retirement income, while 8 per cent are still making up their minds whether to change their plans or not.

For those with pension savings who won’t be receiving retirement income from a final salary scheme when they retire in 2015, drawdown arrangements are a popular choice as a means of turning savings into an income.

Overall, their plans include a wide range of options from taking a tax-free lump sum and using the rest to invest in drawdown to have total flexibility over taking the income, while others are likely to buy a lifetime annuity after taking the tax-free lump sum to have a guaranteed maximum amount of income. Some say they will opt for a combination of annuity and drawdown products by investing in other retirement income solutions with an element of guarantee and income flexibility.

Prudential, who commissioned the annual survey, also found that many of the ‘Class of 2015’ are optimistic about the pension reforms with 33 per cent of those with pension savings claiming they are feeling more positive about retirement because of the changes due in April. Thankfully the positive feelings aren’t driven by a widespread plan by retirees to blow their whole retirement pot in one go – only two per cent plan to take their entire pension as a single lump sum and spend the lot.

Vince Smith-Hughes, retirement expert at Prudential, said: “The financial decisions made at retirement can be some of the biggest decisions that people make in their whole lives. With this in mind it’s welcoming that the members of the ‘Class of 2015’ are not planning to blow their entire pension savings en masse. The upcoming freedoms mark the start of a process not its end and we’d encourage everyone approaching retirement to take the time to get all the help they need rather than rush headlong into immediately cashing in their fund.

“Retirement can easily last 20 years or longer, so it’s important to make retirement income decisions that address the risk of outliving your savings. If retirees choose to draw income directly from their pension fund, whether in one big lump sum or over time, it’s important they are aware of the implications on their future income and their tax liability.

“While all retirees should make the most of the free guidance available from the Government’s Pension Wise scheme, a consultation with a professional financial adviser or retirement specialist will also help many people to make the most of the new choices.”

Image: Retirement on Calculator by Shutterstock