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How real clients are planning their retirement

Anthony's priorities

Passing money
to loved ones

 - High

Having income
guaranteed

 - Low

Investing for
flexibility

 - High

About Anthony

Age: 59

Occupation: Doctor - GP

What kind of pension?: Final salary, SIPP

Current aims: Become a ski leader, help children with house purchases


Third meeting (most recent)

Part of the challenge when you retire is keeping busy. So I've been volunteering at a local charity book shop and planning some trips. I'm hoping to go on a medical expedition to Nepal with my wife (who is also a doctor) and I've got another ski trip booked.

Budget planning

Now my NHS pension has started I need to sit down and work out how much I'm spending and whether I've got enough income to sustain this through my retirement. I'll use Hargreaves Lansdown's budget planner to see if I'm on track.

Still saving

As well as treating myself to some new ski equipment, I’ve used the tax-free cash from my pension to boost my savings. Between my wife and me, we can shelter over £30,000 of savings from the taxman by using our ISAs.

Shelter up to £15,240 this tax year with our award-winning ISA

Our free guide explains how others, like Anthony, might find ISAs useful in retirement - and how they provide a useful tax shelter.

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Second meeting

I have now retired from medical practice in the NHS, waiting to receive my pension. I also decided to go for the maximum lump sum.

It is very strange not going to work after 35 years of almost continuous service. It's very much a period of transition and whilst I have got plans I am not entirely sure how they will fit in.

I may find myself going back to work, but in the meantime I've taken the plunge and am booked in to go to Zermatt in Switzerland for a ski leader course. If I pass the course then I can lead ski club members on the mountain for many years to come - so long as I remain fit and healthy.

Other plans

In the longer term I would like to be able to use some of my ISA to help my four children. They are at the age when there are weddings and first homes are on the horizon. These kind of things are a lot more expensive now than they were when I was in my 20s so I'd like to be able to help. I don't particularly want to stick the money under the mattress and I quite like the idea of investing it - but equally I am also wary of it being hit by global thermals which will sweep it away. I might need advice.

What I wish I'd done differently

I'm stuck in a queue for my NHS pension and I realised that I should have got the forms and various things that I needed to activate my pension sooner.

Anthony on winding down for retirement

Anthony explains why gradually winding down for retirement wouldn't work for him.

Anthony on why skiing made him take the retirement plunge

Anthony explains how and why his passion for skiing made him take the decision to retire before age 60.

First meeting

All my life I've loved skiing and I'm now approaching the age limit (60) on the ski leader course I've always want to do. This has spurred me into action, although I have been thinking of retiring for a while.

Current plans for retirement

Retiring will give me the time to take my skiing to another level, something I am really keen to do whilst I'm fit and able. This hasn't been possible as a practicing GP over the years.

The main decision I have to make is whether I take my lump sum from the NHS pension. I've got the choice of taking the maximum lump sum and having a reduced annual pension or not taking the standard lump sum and having a larger income. I know the annual pension is very valuable because it's inflation linked but I'm tempted to take the larger lump sum so I know I've got a good amount of money out of my pension straight away.

Other than this decision, I need to re-assess my ISA investments. I don't think anyone truly knows how much money they'll spend in retirement until they retire so it's good to have a safety net.

Interested in finding out more about…

On the saving and investment side, I wouldn't consider myself an astute investor - I do make sure I research the funds I invest in but could do with some help to ensure everything is in order.

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Martin's priorities

Passing money
to loved ones

 - Low

Having income
guaranteed

 - Medium

Investing for
flexibility

 - High

About Martin

Age: 61

Occupation: Telecommunications engineer (retired)

What kind of pension?: SIPP

Current aims: Travel and live comfortably in retirement


Second meeting (most recent)

I am keeping an eye on my income and expenditure. I am still living off some investments whilst I think about drawing my pensions. I have ISAs and other investments which I am using to drip feed into ISAs each year to make things more tax efficient.

My decisions depend on factors such as: how long my savings will last, the state of the stock market which has been very volatile at the moment, annuity rates and various unpredictable factors, what the government might do in the future.

How I broke down my expenditure

Since I stopped work my income has reduced to almost zero, but I have been looking at my expenditure and it basically breaks down into three areas. There are the essentials of day to day living, food, utilities, putting a roof over your head. Then the cost of running a car which is quite expensive, and luxuries like holidays. I will be looking at an annuity to cover the essentials while drawdown would cover costs of things like a new car and holidays.

I want flexibility but will probably buy an annuity

I am leaning towards putting a small amount into an annuity and keeping the rest in drawdown although that doesn't preclude me from putting it into an annuity at a later date. No one can really predict what will happen to the stockmarket in future and I want to be able to respond to whatever might happen.

Martin Harris on what income he needs

Martin Harris shares his thoughts on his income and expenditure needs.

Annuities - a guaranteed income for life

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Martin talks about annuities

Martin talks about when he might buy an annuity, and why he wants flexibility now.

First meeting

I've actually been "retired" for nearly a year, but I've not started drawing my pension. So far I've been living off savings whilst I decide how to make best use of my pension funds.

A part of me wants to hold off for as long as possible to keep the pension untouched - after all it's not subject to any further tax whereas some of my other savings are.

Current plans for retirement

I want to travel around the world in the next few years: I used to really enjoy travelling as part of my job. I started retirement with a big trip to China and South East Asia, followed by a smaller trip along the Welsh coast.

Once I do start to draw from my pension I will use drawdown for part of it, I understand the risks but like the flexibility. I'm also interested in buying an annuity to help me cover some essential expenditure, e.g. utility bills, food (I think about half of this will be covered by the State Pension so I need to think about how best to cover the rest).

I see retirement in three phases

In the early stage in my 60s I'll be spending the most money on travel and other luxuries. I think this will slow down in my 70s and slow down a lot in my 80s. I am aware how expensive care costs can be in later life but I am not ready to make plans for this yet.

Interested in finding out more about…

My next step is to look over my records for the last year and see how much I've spent. I'm sure my spending will have been very different compared to when I've been working. I need to understand what income I need and then I can think of the best way to optimise that income from my current investments while minimising tax.

A flexible income via drawdown

Understand why Martin is considering drawdown. Learn how drawdown works, the risks and benefits and why income is flexible but not secure.

Request your guide to drawdown

Christina's priorities

Passing money
to loved ones

 - Medium

Having income
guaranteed

 - High

Investing for
flexibility

 - Medium

About Christina

Age: 64

Occupation: Voice and communication skills coach, lecturer and speech therapist

What kind of pension?: Final salary, drawdown

Current aims: Get the most out of my savings whilst continuing to work. Scale down work and have enough to live on. Pass money on to children.


Second meeting (most recent)

The sale of the house is taking up all my time. Once we've moved I'll have more time to look at our retirement plans again.

The house sale will generate a lump sum for our son and a larger sum to invest for income. It's more money than I've previously had to invest so I'll need some pointers.

Other aims

I have cash ISAs which are not earning much interest - I might move them to a Stocks and Shares ISA or use the money to fund a pension contribution.

My drawdown provider has increased my withdrawals without my permission, and I worry the levels are unsustainable. I like the idea of only drawing the income generated by the investments (natural yield) to help protect the capital - meaning there is more to pass on when I die.

I am kicking myself that…

When I was a member of the NHS and University pension schemes, no one ever suggested topping up the pensions. In my 20’s I didn’t understand what superannuation was. I wanted to fund a postgraduate course so took all the money out, as you could back then - thank goodness that's not now allowed.

How can you invest a drawdown pension for income?

See the investment strategies Christina might consider to generate income without eroding capital. Plus, six fund ideas for income.

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First meeting

To many people who work in the arts, pensions can be a different language. I work partly as a theatre voice teacher and communication skills coach, and people in the theatre world may want to run and hide at the thought of talking about pensions. However my father was a naval officer and chartered accountant and so I’ve always known it's important to organise my finances.

Current plans for retirement

I’m receiving some pensions already but I’m far from being retired. I’m still working part time, which is essential for financial reasons but I also enjoy it. I have a lot of strong female role models who worked well into their 80’s. I don’t plan to stop any time soon.

Other aims

We would like to take one wonderful wildlife trip per year. When we were both in full employment, we went to Costa Rica, but now we are quite happy with going to Scotland. Three years ago we had a ‘gap year’ in France and would like to have more adventures like that.

We are downsizing our home, which will release some money that will need to be invested carefully.

Interested in finding out more about…

I’m interested in whether I should be putting more money into my SIPP or ISA whilst I can afford to save.

My aim is to make sure we have enough money in retirement to enjoy ourselves as well as help our children. I’ve got all the questions, but not so much time to research the answers! When it comes to retirement planning I might need a bit more help than usual.

Do you need financial advice?

Retirement is one of the key times in life when people approach us for advice. Our free initial consultation will help you decide if our advice service is right for you.

Book your free initial consultation today

Neil's priorities

Passing money
to loved ones

 - Medium

Having income
guaranteed

 - Medium

Investing for
flexibility

 - Medium

About Neil

Age: 64

Occupation: Driving instructor, bus driver

What kind of pension?: Final salary, SIPP, money purchase work pension

Current aims: Enjoy time with family, improve home (DIY)


Third meeting (most recent)

I celebrated the New Year by starting my retirement. It's only been a few months but so far I'm loving it.

So far, so good

I've been able to do more of the things I enjoy - like country walks with my wife. I've also started playing golf and been on a ski trip.

Financially things are going well. My State Pension has started. This income is topped up with my final salary pension which means I don't need to touch my SIPP yet.

What I’d do differently

I started saving into my pension when I was 30 which has allowed me to build up a big enough pot to enjoy my retirement. I wish I'd started earlier and I'd advise anyone starting out in their careers to save as much as they can, even if it's just a small amount each month.

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Second meeting (most recent)

My final salary pension will start soon, plus there's my State Pension when I'm 65. My plan is to live off this income, and use my SIPP to top up. Hopefully I can just take what's known as the natural yield as I don't really want to touch the capital. I would rather just leave that just building up.

Other aims

We have got a lot of home improvements to do, which I have been putting off. I might do a little bit of part time work. A lot of people seem to just carry on working but I would like to have a break to see how things go.

I want to find out more about...

I'd like more detail on how natural yield works, and what happens if I want to take more or less than the income the investments produce. I also need to find out more about what options my wife will have for what's left in my pension.

What happens to your pension when you die?

What are the new rules, and how can you pass on pension wealth tax efficiently?

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Neil asks two common drawdown questions

Neil asks two common drawdown questions: how does natural yield work, and what happens when he dies?

First meeting

I plan to retire when I reach 65 this year and I'm looking forward to enjoying more time with my wife and family. I used to work as a driving instructor and now as a bus driver - both jobs involve long days.

I've got a final salary pension through an old employer (which I tracked down using the pension tracing service), a small pension from my current work and a SIPP with Hargreaves Lansdown that I've been saving into myself.

Current plans for retirement

My wife had always wanted to go to Canada. I'll probably take advantage of new pension rules and take my small pension as cash to fund a fly-drive holiday starting in Vancouver. We previously did a trip ten years ago starting in Los Angeles. It may be a busman's holiday but I like the extra freedom you get driving compared to rail or bus tours.

My mortgage is paid off and my pensions will cover most of my outgoings. I feel I can take on a bit more risk with my SIPP so drawdown could be right for me instead of an annuity.

Interested in finding out more about…

I want to learn more about the different strategies for investing and look at how long the fund will last depending on different scenarios.

A flexible income via drawdown

Understand why Neil is considering drawdown. Learn how drawdown works, the risks and benefits and why income is flexible but not secure.

Request your guide to drawdown

Bryan's priorities

Passing money
to loved ones

 - Medium

Having income
guaranteed

 - Low

Investing for
flexibility

 - Medium

About Bryan

Age: 64

Occupation: Planning officer

What kind of pension?: Final salary, SIPP

Current aims: Help children with deposits for first homes


Second meeting (most recent)

I'm in a stage of part retirement. I am getting my local government pension and that will just about fund our basic needs but not things like exotic holidays. I need to decide if I carry on working a bit longer to save more money.

I think I will defer my State Pension. I think it's the best option for me because it avoids any problems of paying tax at 40% - plus I calculate I have got to stay alive for about 6 years to make it worthwhile.

I have my ISA with Hargreaves Lansdown. Originally this was for retirement but I'm now thinking I can keep this to use if I need a big lump of capital, maybe for a house deposit for the children.

The best advice I ever had

When I started working for the local government in 1973 everyone was opting out of the pension scheme. My brother told me not to. That was the best advice I have ever had.

I tell my children they need to be saving for the time they won't be earning, even though its 40 years away. But yes they do laugh at me.

Bryan on the importance of saving to pensions early

Bryan talks about the best advice he's ever had on pensions.

How do ISAs fit in at retirement?

Our free guide explains how others, like Bryan, might find ISAs useful in retirement - and how they provide a useful tax shelter.

Learn more on ISAs

How Bryan manages his investments

Bryan explains how he takes an active interest in his investments.

First meeting

I don't have the "I am ready to retire now" feeling. People tell me the moment comes when you realise you are ready to retire. That moment hasn't come for me yet and I'm enjoying working so will keep going for a bit longer.

Current plans for retirement

I've worked for many years for the Local Authority so have built up a decent final salary pension. This will cover essential spending needs like household bills and living expenses. My plans are more about maximising my other savings to enjoy my retirement and help my family as much as possible.

Other plans

I've been paying into my Vantage SIPP to avoid higher rate tax and my wife and I have been able to make full use of our ISA allowances each year. I hope to use this money to allow us to keep going on holidays and also help my children with deposits to buy their first homes.

Interested in finding out more about…

I want to make sure the investments in my ISA are fit for purpose to give me the best chance of making these hopes a reality in the next few years. I'd be interested to know what HL can offer to help.

Free guide to SIPPs (self-invested personal pensions)

Find out how they work, including the tax advantages and access to new pension freedoms Bryan, and you, could receive.

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Important: The information on our website is not personal advice but we can offer advice if specifically requested. What you do with your pension is an important decision, which could be irreversible. Drawdown is a more complex option than an annuity. Make sure you understand your options and check they are suitable for your circumstances: take appropriate advice or guidance if you are unsure. The Government's free Pension Wise service can help. It provides impartial guidance face-to-face, online or by phone - more on Pension Wise.