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Risk questions

It’s important to make sure you understand the risks of drawdown before you apply. To help you understand if drawdown is right for you, answer these risk questions honestly, and consider the warnings appropriate to your situation. You, and not someone on your behalf, should complete these questions for accuracy.

Completing these questions, doesn’t mean you need to apply for drawdown, but is an FCA requirement for anyone looking to apply. For your convenience, we’ll keep these on record for reference should you wish to apply for drawdown in the next few months. If you’re unsure about drawdown or which option might be best for your situation, you should seek guidance from Pension Wise or personal advice from a Financial Adviser.

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Personal details

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Risk questions

You can answer the risk questions to help you understand more about drawdown, but in most cases, you must be aged 55 or over to apply for drawdown.

Section A: understanding your options

Question 1

The government offers a free guidance service to help people understand their pension options – it’s called Pension Wise. Have you received guidance from this service?

Question 2

Retirement planning is one of the most popular reasons for seeking financial advice. Have you received personal advice from a regulated financial adviser?

What you do with your pension is an important and often irreversible decision. Before making any major decisions, it is important to get independent guidance, such as that available from Pension Wise, or personal advice.

Section B: your circumstances

Question 3

People will have various reasons for accessing their pension through drawdown, but making decisions about your pension based on short-term events and circumstances (especially during a time of market volatility) can have long-term consequences for your financial wellbeing and retirement. Do you understand this risk, and are you happy that now is the right time to access your pension?

Important: Some people may choose to access their pension earlier than planned, or because of unforeseen circumstances. This is particularly risky, as you may not be able to generate the income you need in later life as a result, and you may also miss any future increases in value should the market rise. If you have other sources of finance, depending on what these are, there may be fewer long-term risks if you access those first. There is financial support available to those who qualify. You can find out more information (including benefits you can claim and wider rules around sick pay and debt) by contacting the Money Advice Service set up by the government.

With this in mind, are you happy to continue?

If your circumstances mean you’re not happy to accept this risk then drawdown may not be suitable for you. Ending the risk questions will take you back to the start, but if you want to you can still request an illustration to help you consider your options.

Question 4

In drawdown, you are responsible for your own investment and income choices. Do you understand this, and are you happy to continue knowing you are solely accountable for your decisions should your investments perform poorly or your withdrawals become unsustainable?

Important: How much drawdown income you get, and how long your pension lasts, will depend on how much you withdraw (particularly in the early years), the returns you achieve and how long you live. You need to review your choices regularly to keep an eye on the performance of your investments and the value of your pension. If you choose to go ahead with drawdown without taking personal financial advice, you must be confident (and comfortable) making these decisions yourself. If you’re unsure about this you should seek personal advice or guidance.

With this in mind, are you happy to continue?

If your circumstances mean you’re not happy to accept this risk then drawdown may not be suitable for you. Ending the risk questions will take you back to the start, but if you want to you can still request an illustration to help you consider your options.

Question 5

With drawdown you’re choosing to keep your pension invested, which means the value of your pension and the income available for you to take can rise and fall. During poor market conditions, you may need to limit your withdrawals to protect the value of your fund. Do you understand this risk, and are you happy to continue knowing your income isn’t secure and you could get back less than you invest?

Important: Having enough money to cover essential costs is a vital requirement for any retirement plan. Unlike an annuity, which provides a secure income for life, with drawdown your pension value and future income can fall due to weak investment performance or poor investment decisions. It’s important to consider what other secure income sources are available to you and if you could afford to stop or limit your drawdown withdrawals if you needed to. Drawing too much income too early will also reduce your pension’s value and in the worst case, you could run out of money entirely, leaving you reliant on the State. If you have other sources of finance, depending on what these are, there may be fewer long-term risks if you access those first. If you’re unsure about this you should seek advice or guidance.

With this in mind, are you happy to continue?

If your circumstances mean you’re not happy to accept this risk then drawdown may not be suitable for you. Ending the risk questions will take you back to the start, but if you want to you can still request an illustration to help you consider your options.

Question 6

Income withdrawal strategies can affect how long your pension lasts, and its ability to recover from market falls. Do you understand the risks of selling investments to generate income versus only drawing the income that your investments naturally produce?

Important: Income from drawdown isn’t secure. If you withdraw more than the growth provided by your pension investments, withdrawals may not be sustainable. Selling investments to create income increases the risk of running out of money, especially following market falls, as your investments may not have time to regain any losses. Taking just the income provided by your investments, the natural yield, carries lower risks. If you need your pension to last your entire retirement, and you plan to sell investments to generate income, you should consider if drawdown is the most appropriate option for you. If you’re unsure about this, you should seek personal advice or guidance.

With this in mind, are you happy to continue?

If your circumstances mean you’re not happy to accept this risk then drawdown may not be suitable for you. Ending the risk questions will take you back to the start, but if you want to you can still request an illustration to help you consider your options.

Question 7

Pension withdrawals are subject to income tax. Any withdrawals will be added to any other income you receive in that tax year, which means taking large withdrawals could push you into a higher tax bracket (especially if you’re still working). It’s also likely that emergency tax will be deducted from the first taxable withdrawal you make. Do you understand the impact this could have on your situation, and are you happy to continue knowing there may be instances where the tax you pay could be higher or lower than owed?

Important: Usually up to 25% of your pension can be paid to you tax free. With drawdown, this is as a tax free lump sum. For subsequent withdrawals, tax will be deducted via Pay As You Earn (PAYE). This is how employers deduct tax from their employees’ salary. The emergency tax code is a temporary code that will normally be used when you take a taxable income from your pension for the first time (unless you have a valid P45). This code doesn’t take other income into account and assumes you will receive the same amount each month, so it’s likely to result in the incorrect amount of tax being deducted initially. This code will be used until HMRC provide us with your personal tax code.

HMRC may update this tax code as your tax circumstances change. If you withdraw further payments in the same tax year they should include any over or underpayment of tax to date and may result in tax being repaid. Tax codes are typically applied on a cumulative basis. This means more of your Personal Allowance becomes available as we progress through the year. The tax deducted from each income payment is determined by any tax you’ve already paid in the tax year, and how much of your tax-free personal allowance has already been used. You may have to reclaim any overpaid tax directly from HMRC. The tax you pay and any benefits you receive will depend on your circumstances. Tax rules can change in the future. If you’re unsure about this you should seek personal advice or guidance.

With this in mind, are you happy to continue?

If your circumstances mean you’re not happy to accept this risk then drawdown may not be suitable for you. Ending the risk questions will take you back to the start, but if you want to you can still request an illustration to help you consider your options.

Question 8

It’s important you make an informed choice when it comes to accessing your pension. You could find yourself choosing a retirement option that isn’t right for you or a provider who doesn’t meet your needs. Do you understand this risk, and are you happy that you’ve shopped around to compare your retirement options and the services available from different providers?

Important: Shopping around allows you to compare the different options, including the benefits and risks, and services of different providers. For example drawdown can provide flexible income but this isn’t secure. Other options, such as annuities, can offer a secure income for life but aren’t flexible. Understanding the different options and how these work will help you choose the option that’s right for your circumstances. If you’re unsure about this you should seek personal advice or guidance.

With this in mind, are you happy to continue?

If your circumstances mean you’re not happy to accept this risk then drawdown may not be suitable for you. Ending the risk questions will take you back to the start, but if you want to you can still request an illustration to help you consider your options.

Question 9

Charges will reduce your retirement income and/or value of investments. Do you understand this risk, and are you happy that you have considered how charges might affect your drawdown plan as well as those of any other options you’re considering?

Important: It’s important to consider the charges associated with the option you choose when accessing your pension, including management charges and any set up fees that may apply. Most investments carry charges, and the money you ultimately receive depends on the investment returns, less any charges. The charges for drawdown in the HL SIPP are shown in the Terms and Conditions. The investments you choose may have their own charges in addition to our account charges. If you’re unsure about this you should seek personal advice or guidance.

With this in mind, are you happy to continue?

If your circumstances mean you’re not happy to accept this risk then drawdown may not be suitable for you. Ending the risk questions will take you back to the start, but if you want to you can still request an illustration to help you consider your options.

Question 10

Flexibly accessing your pension by withdrawing taxable income from it could restrict how much you can pay into pensions without incurring a tax charge. Future contributions to money purchase pensions, such as SIPPs and other personal pensions, will normally be restricted to a maximum of £4,000 each tax year. This is particularly significant for those who plan to continue or resume pension contributions after accessing their pension. Do you understand this risk, and are you happy to continue knowing any contributions you make over this limit will be added to your income and subject to income tax at your highest rate?

Important: Pension contributions are usually limited by an annual allowance, which for most people is £40,000 a year. This includes any employer contributions and tax relief received or due on the contributions you make. The £4,000 Money Purchase Annual Allowance limit is triggered when you flexibly access a pension for the first time. Just taking your tax-free cash entitlement, or income from an older ‘capped drawdown’ plan, won’t trigger this limit unless you flexibly access pensions elsewhere. If you’re unsure about this you should seek personal advice or guidance.

With this in mind, are you happy to continue?

If your circumstances mean you’re not happy to accept this risk then drawdown may not be suitable for you. Ending the risk questions will take you back to the start, but if you want to you can still request an illustration to help you consider your options.

Question 11

Transferring pensions could make managing your finances easier, but depending on the type of pension you have and your current provider you could risk losing valuable guarantees or need to pay exit fees as a result. Do you understand this risk, and have you contacted your current provider to check the impacts of transferring?

Important: Some pensions carry valuable guarantees or allowances (like a higher tax-free cash entitlement – over 25%) which may be lost once you’ve transferred. Depending on your provider, you could also trigger high exit fees. Before you do anything, you should check all these details with your current pension provider. If you have guarantees we suggest you seek personal advice before applying to transfer.

With this in mind, are you happy to continue?

If your circumstances mean you’re not happy to accept this risk then drawdown may not be suitable for you. Ending the risk questions will take you back to the start, but if you want to you can still request an illustration to help you consider your options.

Question 12

Retirement might last 30 years or more and it is important to consider the effects of inflation on the value of your income. Do you understand this risk, and are you happy that you’ve considered the effects of inflation (i.e. rising prices) on your plans?

Important: Prices rise over time. For example, between April 2000 and April 2020, inflation saw the cost of goods and services rise by 73.7%. This means an equivalent range of goods costing £1,000 twenty years ago would typically have increased to £1,737. This means you might find yourself running short of money, even if the amount of income you take stays the same. If you’re unsure about this you should seek personal advice or guidance.

With this in mind, are you happy to continue?

If your circumstances mean you’re not happy to accept this risk then drawdown may not be suitable for you. Ending the risk questions will take you back to the start, but if you want to you can still request an illustration to help you consider your options.

Question 13

Withdrawing money from your pension may reduce any means-tested benefits you receive. Do you understand this risk, and are you happy to continue knowing the effect this could have on your current and future finances?

Important: Some benefits are calculated based on how much income and capital you have - these are called 'means-tested benefits'. Capital includes money you have in your savings and investments. If you have a partner, their capital and income may also be taken into account. Means-tested benefits include pension credit, housing benefit, income support, and jobseeker’s allowance. Taking money out of your pension could affect your eligibility for these benefits. You can find more details about means-tested benefits at gov.uk/benefits-calculators. If you’re unsure about this you should seek personal advice or guidance.

With this in mind, are you happy to continue?

If your circumstances mean you’re not happy to accept this risk then drawdown may not be suitable for you. Ending the risk questions will take you back to the start, but if you want to you can still request an illustration to help you consider your options.

Question 14

Any money in a pension may be protected from your creditors if you’re in debt (e.g. loans, mortgages, credit cards) and they take action against you. This protection could be lost once you withdraw money from your pension. Do you understand this risk, and are you happy knowing the effect this could have on your current and future finances?

Important: If you have an arrangement to pay your debts, your creditors may be able to take money from any pension income or lump sums you withdraw. Most pension pots aren’t included as assets in bankruptcy, however if you withdraw any income or lump sums from your pot, the person or organisation appointed to manage your bankruptcy may ask you to make regular payments towards your debts from that money. They can also claim an entire lump sum you take while you’re bankrupt. If you’re in financial difficulty, you should take extra care before withdrawing money from your pension and seek personal advice or guidance if you’re unsure.

With this in mind, are you happy to continue?

If your circumstances mean you’re not happy to accept this risk then drawdown may not be suitable for you. Ending the risk questions will take you back to the start, but if you want to you can still request an illustration to help you consider your options.

Question 15

Investment scams exist which target people who’ve withdrawn, or plan to withdraw, money from their pension. If you fall victim to these scams you could lose most or all of your money, with no compensation available. Do you understand this risk, and are you confident that you know what to look out for?

Important: Unfortunately, investment scams are becoming more prevalent and sophisticated, which can make them harder to spot. Often fraudsters will attempt to make their ‘sales pitch’ as realistic and attractive as possible. They’ll aim to build a rapport with you – sharing fake reviews, using convincing literature and websites or claiming to be regulated. Warning signs can include cold calling or texting, pressure to act quickly, the promise of unique or unusual opportunities, the offer of quick and easy profits or something that seems too good to be true. For pensions, scammers might also offer free pension reviews and the chance to release money from your pension even if you’re under the age of 55, which isn’t normally allowed under current pension legislation. You can find out more at fca.org.uk/scamsmart. If you’re unsure about this you should seek personal advice or guidance.

With this in mind, are you happy to continue?