How to get advice on your pension

Need to speak to someone about your personal pension but don’t know where to start? Chances are, you’re not alone.

Our pensions are often the most important savings that we’ll make in our lifetime. However, their complex nature typically puts people off dealing with them – it’s a classic case of when something feels difficult, we ignore it, and inertia rules….

However, given that we rely on our pensions to support us throughout retirement, it’s a good idea to check on them every few years. This way, you can make sure that your finances are on track for the type of lifestyle that you want, and expect later on.

But many of our members tell us that – when it comes to organising their pension(s) – they don’t know where to start. With that in mind, we’ve pulled together a few starting points to hopefully make those initial steps just that little bit easier.

Find out where you stand

When it comes to keeping track of your pension(s), the first step is to dig out information from your various pension providers. You may only have one pension provider if you’ve been with the same employer for 20 or more years, or you may have a number of pension pots split across different providers if you’ve changed employers every few years.

By law, each pension provider is required to give you regular updates on the performance of your pension. It helps if you can find and gather the last statements that you received for each pension pot, so that you have a complete list of all your pensions and the various amounts in each. If you can’t find the information – but know who your pension is with, then you should be able to call the provider and give them your National Insurance number and other personal information to allow them to identify you and get the details sent out. It’s also worth checking and updating the address they have on file for you at the same time if you’ve moved house since you last provided your details.

If you’re still struggling to find the details, then the Government has recently launched a service that allows you to find the contact details of various providers to trace long lost pensions. It may be time consuming, but it’s worth taking the time to track down, as you don’t want to potentially lose out on thousands of pounds sat in a long lost pension somewhere!

Seek free 1-2-1 Government supported guidance

couple getting pension advice

When you have your various pension details to hand – a good next step is the Pension Wise website. It was set up by the Government to offer free and impartial guidance to people who have a personal pension scheme.

If you are aged 50 or over and have a defined contribution pension, you can book a free telephone or face to face appointment with them, to help you make sense of your options. This is almost always worth doing as a free starting point to help you on your way.

Consider using a Financial Advisor

couple getting financial advice

The downside to using a Financial Advisor is that there are usually fees involved, but these are often outweighed by the benefits of getting good personalised advice. Different firms can charge in different ways, so it’s important to get an idea of the costs upfront. Thankfully, since 2011 the Financial Regulator (the FCA) has made it a requirement for Financial Advisors to clearly state what the fees are at the first meeting – this way, there’s unlikely to be any nasty surprises further down the line.

Pension rules have changed recently – and now you can withdraw £500 (tax-free) from your pension to pay for professional pension advice. Many advisors also offer an initial free consultation, which gives you a chance to try out their service and ensure you are happy to have a continuing relationship before paying for anything. With many Financial Advisors offering this free consultation, it can make sense to meet more than one – so you can make a comparison and see who you have the best rapport with – to ultimately help you decide who you trust to give you the best advice for your circumstances.

How to find a Financial Advisor

Word of mouth is always helpful and many advisors focus on building their reputation locally, so in the first instance it’s worth asking trusted friends and family who they have chosen to advise them on their money and if they would recommend using them.

You can also use an independent rating service such as VouchedFor or Unbiased, who allow customers to independently rate the service they have received from their advisor. They have customer reviews on thousands of regulated Financial Advisors all over the country.

For more information on things to consider when choosing a Financial Advisor, you can read our guide on ‘How to find the right Financial Advisor for you’.

Additional Online Resources

Alternatively, if you want to learn more in your own time first so you feel better prepared, then there are plenty of useful, impartial resources out there. The two well known Government supported websites are:

Did you find this information useful? Do you have any tips or suggestions from your own experience? We’re always happy to hear from you at [email protected].

Links with an * by them are affiliate links which help Rest Less stay free to use as they can result in a payment or benefit to us. You can read more on how we make money here.

15 thoughts on “How to get advice on your pension

  1. Avatar
    Esther on Reply

    Yes i must say this information is of great help, i have been thinking for some time on how to approach sorting out my retirement so this valuable information. I am sixty one and finding work stressful, tiresome and really fed up with work place politics so retiring is not far away but worried sick that i wont be able to function financially.

    1. Avatar
      Helen on Reply

      Hi Esther

      Thank you for your feedback. Great that you found the article helpful. Sometimes it is the fear of the unknown that is more stressful than finding out exactly where you stand. “Knowledge is power”, as the saying goes.

      All the best.

      Helen at Team Rest Less

  2. Avatar
    John on Reply

    I am sixty one and this explained exactly where I am myself . I am in the same mind as Ester and this has made me realise I need to look into my finances in some more detail .

  3. Avatar
    john on Reply

    At sixty two and having been told on numerous occasions since being made redundant that I have nothing left to offer and not to expect to get another position I used the information to have a review done with a view to taking my pension in the next tax year. Helpful information, thank you.

  4. Avatar
    Rob on Reply

    I booked an appointment with PensionWise & had a vert productive 1 hour call. My contact was knowledgeable & very helpful. I do recommend you prepare for the meeting and get all your pension details in advance – my wife & I have six between us + two state pensions when we get to 67. Pension Wise have free booklets you can order online and they arrived on the post the following day. Get to know some of the terminology i.e. Defined Benefits, Defined Contribution, you tax allowances, etc. After working & contributing for so many years it feels good to be able to plan ahead so that I can enjoy my retirement. NB John 9th Oct – don’t be told what to do – at just 62, if you have your health, you will have a lot to offer. Listen to yourself, not others. Onwards & upwards, Rob

  5. Avatar
    Imogen Rodgers on Reply

    I decided to try to learn how about Pensions only this year. I watched a bloke called Ramin on Pensioncraft on Youtube and then signed up to his group to get a one to one with him every two months as I am doing a SIPP ( self administered pension).

    He is a lovely bloke who lives in Amersham and his goal is to EDUCATE us people on pension – but not to give directed advise. He’s deffo not selling anything apart from a tiered subscription to his work . He thinks that pension advisors fee’s take up most of what you’d gain from using them and hence he created Pensioncraft. There are live weekly videos on youtube. I’ve learnt a lot… well considering i knew nothing make my learning curve a steep one.

    1. Avatar
      Paul on Reply

      Very interesting. I also took an interest I pension craft but found it was all a bit overwhelming. I had a few one to ones but for some reason I didn’t feel I was clear on what I should do afterwards. All that said I have SIPP and lucky enogh to have a small DB pension too

  6. Avatar
    Andrea Miles on Reply

    Good financial advisers are very valuable but it’s as well to shop around . Some charge hefty annual fees, others are more economical. There are levels of risk when investing of course. I had my lump sum and pension from my teaching years and didn’t want to take high risks . My income is lower as a result but now I have expensive care needs for my husband and my money is accessible whenever I need it. Rip off Britain highlighted a money back scheme by applying to HMRC. This government website explains how to claim if your pension is within certain amounts.

  7. Avatar
    Geof T on Reply

    Be very, very careful that you are really clear on the charges made by pension providers. I am currently drawing my pension using a plan that pays me dividends from the companies my plan is invested in. Due to Covid-19 my monthly payment has gone down by 40%, but the charges levied by my provider remain almost the same. My provider is currently taking about 60% of what I receive each month in charges and I really feel that the plan is designed to benefit them rater than me.

  8. Avatar
    ADE on Reply

    AGE 56 payed 40 yrs class1 stanp ni /tax PAYE . payed OAP penstion limit 35 years you get full rate . NO private penstion so just £175 basic OA P . PENSTION TAX CREDITS I RETIRE 67= 2031 .

  9. Avatar
    Jo on Reply

    Hi I have private pension what is the best way to take it without having to pay to much tax ;it’s not large amount I already pay tax from my monthly pay: Iam due to retire next year

  10. Avatar
    Kay on Reply

    To John 9th October. When I applied for jobs in my fifties, a couple of companies were very positive. They felt that a few more years represented their brands better. Good luck. ……4 interviews resulted in 3 jobs (some concurrent) and latest success was at age 60. I am fit so do work that sometimes involves heavy lifting, but I reckon I am fitter than some younger applicants.

  11. Avatar
    Ally Tyne on Reply

    It is extremely important that you use the correct wording regarding Pensionwise as they will not provide any advice only guidance so your title free advice is incorrect and inaccurate and though the service is excellent , advice is not provided and could confuse or mislead people .

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