Newfound financial freedom - pension reform in the UK
16 February 2015
The UK pension industry will undergo significant regulatory changes in a few weeks' time. From 6th April, millions of savers aged 55 years old will be permitted to take the cash from their pensions and will no longer be herded into buying annuity products. Historically, savers had the freedom to take 25% of their pension in a tax-free lump sum, then were encouraged to buy an annuity with the remaining 75%. However, pension reforms will now enable savers over the age of 55 to take out smaller lump sums (in each case 25% of the sum will be tax-free). The government has also changed rules around the 55% inheritance tax rate. What are the implications of this newly instituted "financial freedom" that impacts millions of Britons? This historic change will bring about opportunities and challenges to the investment management industry and raise questions among retirees about tax consequences, suitable products and fees, life expectancy calculations, and wealth transfer and estate administration, for example. While these liberties provide retirees with control over their financial destiny, one must ask if they are adequately prepared to make the critical investment decisions that will impact the rest of their lives, as well as that of their heirs. Who is poised to help them? Perhaps this an opportunity for automated investment advisors and traditional investment managers to join forces (Nutmeg's recent entrance into the pension space & "Retiready" from Aegon both come to mind).