When it comes to financial planning, what could be more important than a pension? A pension policy is designed to ensure you enjoy comfort and stability in your later years, at a time when you’ve retired and are no longer earning an income.
However, you should be warned: not all pensions are equal. There are many different kinds, and they each have their own specific terms and conditions. One type of pension you might be interested in is a Final Salary pension.
You may hear a Final Salary pension referred to as a Defined Benefit pension. Both names describe the same kind of policy, and these names provide important information about how this pension works. Your salary at the point of retirement is your final salary. A final salary pension promises to continue paying you a percentage of this figure when you stop working and for the rest of your life.
Sounds good, right? But given how important a pension is, it’s important to understand each policy option in depth so you fully grasp the financial implications. Read on to learn more about this particular kind of pension, including what it entails, variations on the policy, its advantages and disadvantages, and what a Final Salary Pension Transfer involves.
What Is A Final Salary/Defined Benefit Pension Scheme?
A Final Salary or Defined Benefit pension guarantees that you’ll be paid a percentage of your final salary upon retirement for the rest of your life. If you’re still unsure what kind of pension you have, check your yearly statement. This kind of pension differs from a Defined Contribution pension, which is the most common pension policy in the UK.
A Final Salary pension is calculated by multiplying a percentage of your final salary by the number of years that you worked for the company or organisation. If your pension policy is a Final Salary pension, you should find out what percentage is promised by your employer. This will give you a clearer idea of the amount you will receive upon retirement.
How Does A Final Salary Pension Work?
There are two types of Final Salary pension. The first is a Final Salary pension that is literally based on your salary at the point of retirement, but another is known as a Career Average scheme.
As its name suggests, the Career Average scheme takes an average of your salary throughout your working life to calculate your pension amount, instead of simply using your final salary before you retire.
What Are The Advantages Of A Defined Benefit Pension?
Defined Benefit pensions are widely considered the safest and most generous pensions. This is because employers are responsible for closing deficits, and protective schemes are in place in the event that firms collapse. There are many other advantages to a Defined Benefit pension.
One key advantage is that you’re guaranteed a secure income for life through this policy. This can be a huge source of comfort in your later years. It should ease the financial anxiety that many people experience at the stage of retirement.
Because your pension amount is tied to inflation, it will increase each year. This is a great advantage as it means your pension will rise in line with living costs. Otherwise, you’d experience a decrease in real value as costs increased while your pension remained stagnant.
Your employer contributes to this kind of pension, which is an advantage too! You’re able to claim it at your normal retirement age, which is when they stop contributing to the scheme. You could also claim it at a younger age; however, this may reduce the amount you receive. Check this carefully before making a commitment.
Some Defined Benefit pensions have flexible terms that allow you to defer receipt of your pension in order to enjoy a higher amount when you do start claiming it. It’s a good idea to investigate these options to ensure you’re making the most of your pension.
Terms vary between companies, but some will agree to keep paying a percentage of your pension to a spouse in the event of your death. You may also be able to bequeath retirement savings to children. Look over the terms of your specific policy carefully to see if this advantage applies in your case.
There may also be the option to receive your pension as a lump sum.
What Are The Drawbacks Of A Defined Benefit Pension?
There are clearly many advantages to this type of pension, but what about the drawbacks?
This type of pension is useless for someone who moves around from job to job. It lacks flexibility, instead rewarding long-term company loyalty. How much you benefit from a Defined Benefit pension really depends on your particular career path and the period of time that you plan to stay with one particular employer.
To qualify for this kind of pension, you usually have to have worked a certain number of years with the company. Since it uses years worked to calculate the sum you’ll eventually receive, longer-term is definitely better with a Defined Benefit pension!
As this scheme relies so heavily on employer contributions, you may worry about how employer stability affects the scheme. In reality, these pensions are very protected. They’re some of the safest around!
However, one disadvantage is that it’s not always straightforward to leave a Defined Benefit pension scheme. For this reason, you should consult a financial advisor before making changes to avoid putting your pension in jeopardy. Read on to learn more about a Defined Benefit Pension Transfer.
What Is A Defined Benefit Pension Transfer?
If flexibility is an issue for you and you wish to leave your current employer, you may choose to trade in your Defined Benefit pension for a fixed-size pension. How this works is that your employer will offer you money in exchange for you surrendering your guaranteed lifelong pension.
There are pros and cons to this decision. On the positive side, you can access your pension earlier and you can change your job (and income) without worrying about the impact on your Final Salary pension. One drawback is that you’re essentially swapping a guaranteed income for a limited pension pot. There’s always the risk that this money could run out!
Make sure you’re getting a good deal before you decide to trade in your Defined Benefit pension. The sum that your employer offers you for the pension is an important aspect of the transfer: this is called the Cash Equivalent Transfer Value.
Example Of Cash Equivalent Transfer Value (CETV)
Employers calculate the CETV in different ways; however, they basically project how much they would be likely to pay you in the future if you stayed on the scheme and they buy you out for a lower rate.
If you are 50 and you have a final salary pension projected to pay you 10,000 GBP every year after your retirement at 65, a modest valuation might multiply this by 25 to find your CETV.
A generous employer might multiply 10,000 GBP by 30, 35, or even higher to find your CETV. It depends on their approach, but these calculations are usually how they determine the final sum.
How Do I Know If My CETV Is A Good Value?
You can determine whether your employer is being generous or modest in their evaluation by performing the above calculation yourself.
Use the amount that you’re currently due to receive on your Defined Benefit pension. You can work out how much you’d expect to receive if you stayed with the policy and compare that to the amount that you’re now being offered.
Remember, you’re comparing a lump sum right now to guaranteed money for the rest of your life: it’s not a straightforward comparison.
Are All Defined Benefit Pensions Transferrable?
Not all Defined Benefit pensions are transferrable, so you could confirm the terms and conditions of your specific policy before making any important decisions.
If you work for the public sector, for example, these are supported by the taxpayer. This means you generally cannot transfer out of them. Because private-sector pensions are supported by a central fund, you can usually transfer out of them.
How This Final Salary Pension Transfer Works
Because this is a fairly complex, high-stakes transaction, it’s important to seek professional advice before attempting a Final Salary Pension Transfer.
An expert will be able to outline your options and provide the necessary guidance so you can make an informed decision about this important financial matter.
Is A FSP Transfer Right For You?
Whether an FSP Transfer is the best choice for you largely depends on your own personal circumstances: would you and your family better benefit from a lump-sum payment or would you prefer the stability of a guaranteed income for life?
It also depends on whether the CETV you’re offered is of good value. It may make more financial sense to stay in the scheme if it’s significantly lower than the amount you expect to receive through your Final Salary pension.
Control, choice, and flexibility are the positive outcomes of a successful Final Salary Pension Transfer. However, you should also plan for how best to manage your CETV so that it lasts as long as possible. This is why consulting a financial advisor should be considered a must!