The UK has lost its AAA credit rating for the first time since the 1970s

The credit rating agency Moody’s, at the end of February, downgraded the UK’s sovereign debt rating from AAA to AA1, relegating the UK to the second tier for the first time since 1978. The announcement made headline news, but it was far from unexpected and the possibility of a downgrade had been predicted; the coalition government is taking longer than expected to reduce the UK’s sizable deficit and all three leading credit rating agencies – Fitch, Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s – had already placed the UK on a “negative” outlook during 2012, stoking expectations of a downgrade.

Frequently asked questions

UK employers now have a legal duty to enrol most employees into a qualifying workplace pension scheme and contribute towards their retirement following changes in the Pensions Act.

Frequently asked questions

UK employers now have a legal duty to enrol most employees into a qualifying workplace pension scheme and contribute towards their retirement following changes in the Pensions Act.

“So what do I do with my money?”

There are two main types of occupational workplace pension schemes:

Defined contribution pension schemes

A defined contribution (DC) or money purchase pension scheme is one that invests the money you pay into it, together with any employer’s contribution and gives you an accumulated sum on retirement, with which you can secure a pension income, either by buying an annuity or using income drawdown.

Immediate access to your pension funds, allowing you to take out what you want, when you want it

As your wealth grows, it is inevitable that your estate becomes more complex. With over 400,000 people now expected to reach age 75 each year [1], more and more people could be faced with a 55 per cent tax charge on any money left in their pension fund when they die.

When you’re not ready to convert your pension fund into retirement income

If you decide that you’re not ready to convert your pension fund into retirement income by buying a lifetime annuity, but you do need funds, you have a few options. These are often known as income drawdown options.

Additional income protection

If you have a partner or other dependants, such as children, you might want to think about additional retirement income protection. With income protection, your named dependants could get some or all of your retirement income if you die, either as regular payments over a period of time, or as a one-off lump sum.

Valuable options that allow you to tailor the income you need

In the UK, there are basically two types of annuity:

An important one-off decision that has long-term consequences if you get it wrong

If you save through a private personal pension, when you approach retirement age you’ll have to decide what to do with the pension fund you have built up. If applicable to you, one option is to buy an annuity. It’s important to find an annuity that suits you and provides the best deal because, after your property, an annuity is probably the biggest purchase you will ever make.

To afford the lifestyle you want when you retire, you need to do something about it today

It may be tempting to say, “But retirement is a long way off”, yet it’s never too early to start investing in order to protect your future. To afford the lifestyle you want when you retire, you need to do something about it today. You now have a much greater choice when it comes to how and when to take retirement benefits from pensions since the pension simplification rules were introduced.

A regular payment from the government that you receive when you reach State Pension age

The basic State Pension is a regular payment from the government that you receive when you reach State Pension age. To receive it you must have paid or been credited with National Insurance contributions.

Are you prepared for the financial needs and challenges that may lie ahead in the future?

Almost 15 million people across the UK (31 per cent of the adult population) are not currently making any efforts to save for the future, while eight million people (17 per cent) have no savings to their name at all, according to Scottish Widows’ seventh annual Savings and Investment Report.

Safeguarding and protecting your family’s standard of living

Bad news can impact on any one of us at any time, in the form of an illness or sudden death. We don’t like to think about it but we do have to plan for it. So having the correct protection strategy in place will enable you to protect your family’s lifestyle if your income suddenly changes due to premature death or illness. However, choosing the right options can be difficult without obtaining professional advice to ensure you protect your family from financial hardship.

Navigating your way around a wide range of investment products and strategies

In a period of slow global growth, aggressive central bank actions and near paralysis on the part of many fiscal policy makers, investors enter 2013 facing a plethora of challenges.

Take the legwork out of your retirement planning

People are living longer and the number of retirees is growing. Longevity should be a blessing but many investors are worried they will outlive their savings. So it is essential to consider saving for retirement as early as possible and to decide where best to invest for your requirements.