Much of the coverage in the press about the new pension reforms has been a little bit caricatured. There has been a lot of focus on the ability of savers to cash in and buy a Lamborghini, which probably won’t be top on the list for most people approaching retirement. Considerably less has been said, however, about how the new rules affect financial planning.
In the past, when we’ve advised clients on retirement and how to structure income, we have been confronted with a restrictive set of rules. The key factors were the tax implications – both during the retirement period and at death. We didn’t have a great deal of flexibility. There might have been situations where it would have been appropriate to strip out the pension to reduce the pot before the client died, but this action had serious income tax implications.
Things have now moved on, as a worst-case scenario at death is now perhaps a 45% charge, where the figure might once have been as high as 82% or lost entirely with annuity purchase. So leaving your money in your pension pot is not necessarily such a bad thing anymore. Pensions should be considered as part of mainstream unencumbered assets, which you can use as an income source and valuable tax planning ‘wrapper’.
Using your pension fund alongside other investment wrappers such as ISAs, you’re able to maximise net spendable income for the smallest amount of capital spend.
Since the advent of the new rules, we may choose to take less out of a fund in many circumstances and make use of other assets for income, protecting the pension fund to pass it on to the next generation.
In short, we’re being presented with a great opportunity to maximise client assets. We can now plan more efficiently in relation to tax, capital preservation, succession planning and income. So if you’re keen to live a better lifestyle and pass on more to beneficiaries, then it’s definitely important to start a conversation with an IFA. Your accountancy firm may well have someone qualified to advise you or will be able to make a recommendation
Verus Wealth Management