How to manage your pension fund

After you begin paying into your pension fund there are still things you can do to help it grow. Here is how to manage your pension and what you should do with it when you retire.

Share this guide

Pensions are long term investments. You may get back less than you originally paid in because your capital is not guaranteed and charges may apply.

Find out your pension value

Your pension company sends you an annual statement each year that tells you how much you have in your pension.

Your annual statement will also show how your pension has performed over the last year, including an individual breakdown for each investment in your pension

How much will your pension be worth when you retire?

Some pension companies also show you an estimate of how much your pension fund will be worth when you reach your retirement age. If your statement does not show this, you can call your pension company and ask for an estimate over the phone.

Change how much you pay

There are several reasons you may decide to change how much you contribute, including:

  • You get a pay rise and can afford to contribute more

  • Your monthly outgoings are too high so you need to reduce your contributions

Your pension company will usually require you to pay between a minimum and maximum amount each month. This is usually a percentage of your salary, for example:

Based on a minimum of 1%, and maximum of 5%, if you pay 4% of your salary each month but find it is too much you should be able to reduce it to as low as 1%.

Top up your pension

Most let you add a lump sum to your pension fund, up to the value of your annual salary or £3,600, whichever is higher.

Anything you add up to your annual allowance of £40,000 is tax free.

Any contributions you can pay over this will be taxed at your income tax rate until the next tax year.

Withdraw from your pension

Most let you start withdrawing from your pension between the ages of 60 and 65, but some let you take your pension from 55 years old.

You can take money from your pension early, but there are usually charges and taxes deducted so speak to an independent financial adviser before doing this.

Here is more on pension withdrawals

Do you need to retire to get your pension?

No, you can continue to work after you start withdrawing from your pension if you choose to.

You also have the option to defer you pension to a later date. This means your monthly pension when you retire will be higher as you will not have withdrawn any funds.

For example, if your pension is worth £150,000 and you defer it for five years then your pension could grow further, resulting in a higher income when you retire.

What does deferring your pension mean?

It means you have decided to take your pension at a later date than the retirement age chosen when you set up your pension.

If you defer your pension then you can continue to pay into it after you have reached your chosen retirement age.

What happens to your pension when you die?

Your pension will go to the person you nominated when you set your pension up.

If you contact your pension company, they can help you:

  • Find out your nominated person

  • Change your nominated person

Some pension companies restrict who you can choose as your nominated person, for example, a close family member, your husband, wife, child.

How to find lost pensions

If you think you paid into a pension with an old employer you can contact them to find out.

Use the database on the GOV.UK website and search for the employer's name to find their details.

You can ask for your lost pension details to be sent through the post, then you can choose to transfer it to an existing pension or cash it in.

You can help ensure you have the retirement you want by finding the best personal pension plan to make your money work as hard as it can.