Pension planning during times of uncertainty
There have been various difficulties in recent years, affecting the UK economy that have had an impact on pension savers. These include Brexit, the COVID-19 pandemic, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine as well as political instability in Westminster. These events have caused turbulence in the markets, leading to a decline in share prices and other investments. If you have a workplace pension or a personal pension you may have noticed that its value has decreased as a result. While this can be concerning, it is important to remember that it is a temporary setback and there are ways to weather the storm.
- What should I do about my pension if I see the value dropping?
- Will my pension pot ever recover?
- Is now a good time to top-up my pension?
- How do I make sure my pension is protected?
- Can I get advice about my pension?
- We’re here to help
What should I do about my pension if I see the value dropping?
Even though these are unprecedented times, as an investor, it’s useful to put any short-term volatility into historical context, to get the bigger picture, rather than focusing too intently on short-term events and market fluctuations.
Market analysts and investors aren’t infallible, they become nervous in uncertain times. This is because the loss of trade and tourism can pose a threat to companies of any size. So, it’s little wonder that stock markets have fallen and you are likely to have seen a drop in the value of your pension pot over the course of the last few years.
However, it’s worth remembering that the recent falls have come after some very strong rises in recent years. Also, your pension pot is unlikely to be invested solely in equities, so a 5% fall in the market does not necessarily equate to a 5% fall in the total value of your pension fund. In fact, the typical pension pot will contain a broad range of assets, which have been identified to fit in line with your attitude to risk, personal objectives and time frames.
A typical pension fund contains around 60%-65% in shares, with the rest in government and corporate bonds, property and cash. In contrast to equities, government bonds have actually increased in value during the crisis.
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Will my pension pot ever recover?
Investment requires a disciplined approach and a degree of holding your nerve if markets fall. Experienced long-term investors know that the worst investment strategy you can adopt is to jump in and out of the stock market, to panic when prices fall and to sell investments at the bottom of the market.
The importance of keeping to your long-term plan is evident by studying the performance of the FTSE 100 over the last 20 years or so. Back in the autumn of 1998, the FTSE 100 fell by 1,000 points, amidst an environment of high-interest rates and other threats to UK economic growth. However, it had almost fully recovered by the end of 1998 and the index soared close to 7,000 in 1999. A global slowdown brought it back down to around 3,600 in the spring of 2003, before taking another five years to climb back to around 6,500. Then, the global financial crisis happened and the index was back at 3,500 in March 2009. After a long haul back, the index was at over 7,000 in January 2020 before the pandemic affected global markets.
Over the last 20 years, despite a variety of market shocks and rebounds, the index still has a long-term growth trend. It's important to remember that some market volatility is inevitable. Markets will always move up and down, but it's important to stick to your long-term plan.
Is now a good time to top up my pension?
Providing you are investing for the long term, you may wish to consider investing more into your pension pot. Even a small increase in contributions could make a difference to your final pension pot if it benefits from an upturn in the market and makes up for recent losses.
Remember that whatever type of pension plan you hold, you get tax relief at the highest rate of Income Tax you pay, on all contributions you make, subject to annual and lifetime allowances. This effectively means that some of your earnings which would have gone to the Government as tax are diverted to boost your pension pot instead.
You receive ‘relief at source’ if you pay money into your personal pension yourself or if your workplace pension contributions are taken directly from your pay packet. In both circumstances, you automatically receive 20% tax back from the Government in the form of an additional deposit into your pension pot. So, for instance, if you’re a basic-rate taxpayer investing £800 of your take-home pay into your pension, the tax relief would amount to £200. Effectively the taxman tops up your £800 contribution to £1,000.
How do I make sure my pension is protected?
As well as taking a long-term view of your pension, regular reviews are essential to ensure you remain on track with your well-defined plan, in accordance with your objectives and attitude to risk. If there have been any changes in your objectives or circumstances, it is particularly important to review and make any adjustments where needed.
When investing, you have to decide how much risk is right for you. Successfully achieving your long-term goals requires a balance between risk and reward, so you can construct a diversified portfolio with the potential to improve returns that matches your elected level of risk. While a diversified portfolio should incorporate strategies to help reduce risk, it cannot be eliminated altogether. The process of building such a portfolio is very difficult to achieve without professional advice.
Can I get advice about my pension?
In these uncertain times, more than ever, it’s important to take professional independent financial advice, from someone who will help you to make the right financial decisions and identify and meet your goals and aspirations. Research shows that those who take advice are likely to accumulate more wealth, supported by increased savings and investments in equities. Also, those in retirement are likely to have more income, particularly at older ages.
We’re here to help
Planning is a continual process of anticipating and adapting to changes in your personal circumstances over the long term. When you work with us you benefit from informed, professional advice, reinforced by up-to-date market intelligence and years of experience. Tees Financial Ltd is the independent financial advice and wealth management arm of Tees. It has been awarded the Pension Transfer Gold Standard as well as Corporate Chartered Financial Planner status.
This material is intended to be for information purposes only and is not intended as an offer or solicitation for the purchase or sale of any financial instrument. It is not intended to provide and should not be relied on for accounting, legal or tax advice, or investment recommendations. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future returns and all investments involve risks. Some information quoted was obtained from external sources we consider to be reliable.
Tees is a trading name of Tees Financial Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered number 211314. Tees Financial Limited is registered in England and Wales. Registered number 4342506.
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Chat to the Author, James Appleby
Managing Director at Tees Wealth, Bishop's Stortford officeMeet James
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