Pension questions?
- Get in touch. Our help is impartial and free to use, whether that’s online or over the phone.

Investing in retirement

Making investment decisions

If you’re planning to use your pension pot to take income flexibly (known as pension drawdown) or take out several lump sums, then you’ll need to make some decisions about how to invest what’s left.

Your provider will usually ask you how you want to invest your remaining pot when you move into pension drawdown or begin taking lump sums. You will either need to choose your own investments, for example ones that match your attitude to risk and your objectives for your money, or some providers may offer you ready-made investment options. You could also use a financial adviser to help you choose.

As with all investments, the value of your pot can go up or down.

arrow icon

What’s different about investing your pension pot when you’re taking money out

When you switch from building up money before retiring to taking money out to move into your retirement, the way you invest your pension may need to change to reflect your new goal.

When you were building up your money in the early years, generally you were trying to grow it as much as possible. But, as you approach retirement, that may change. Now you might be trying to grow it to keep pace with inflation while also trying to protect it from any big drops in value.

Once you begin taking money out, the way you invest your pot needs to be more personalised to the goals you have for using your money.

For example, if you’ve taken some money – maybe to pay off your mortgage – but don’t intend to start drawing down more money for retirement until a few years later, you may want to focus on protecting the money and still trying to grow it slightly.

If, on the other hand, you want to begin using the money to give you an income for the rest of your life, then you should generally choose investments that offer stable growth. This means ones that won’t go up and down too much as the stock markets change.

This is important because if your pension pot drops in value and you continue to make withdrawals from it, it’ll be much harder for your pot to recover its losses when the stock market rises again. It’s particularly important in the early years of your retirement when losses can disproportionately affect how long you might be able to take income for.

Remember, most people will live 20 years or more in retirement. So, if you take too much too early, especially when the markets are on a downturn, you could significantly reduce how long your income will last.

Managing retirement and investment risks

If you want to keep your pension pot invested and take money from it, there are several things you need to take into account when thinking about deciding what to invest in. 

Your attitude to risk and ability to handle losses

How much risk you take with your investments will affect how your money rises and falls. In turn, this can affect how much income you’re able to take and how long it lasts, so it is important to understand how much risk you’re willing to take.

Risk of living a long time

The average life expectancy for most 65-year-olds today is another 20 years. However, many will live longer than this. That’s why you need to plan to have an income for at least this time and potentially a lot longer. One in 10 people will reach age 100. You can check how long you’re expected to live using the ONS life expectancy calculator

Inflation risk

Over a long time, inflation will reduce the value of your savings. Even a low inflation rate will reduce your money’s buying power.

arrow icon

Risk of running out of income

The longer you live and the more you take out of your pot, the harder it will be to make your pension pot last as long as you need it to. To try to avoid this happening, you need to manage your pension pot carefully. This includes thinking about how much to take out and how often, and how to invest your pension pot. 

Working out how much you can safely take out from your pension

How much you should and can safely take from your pension will depend on what you want to use the money for, how long you want to withdraw it over, how often you want to withdraw and how you choose to invest your money.

Say you’re wanting to use one pension pot or part of one pot to give you income that can bridge a gap between stopping full-time work and reaching State Pension age. Then you’ll be looking to withdraw an amount roughly equal to what you need each year to bridge that income gap.

If, on the other hand, you’re looking to withdraw money to support your income needs for the rest of your life, which could be a few decades, then it’s a good idea to limit withdrawals to somewhere between 3% and 5% of your pension pot. That means if you have £100,000 in a pension pot, you would start withdrawing £3,000 to £5,000 a year.

You should review your investments and the amount you’re withdrawing regularly – at least yearly. You can then make adjustments depending on the value of your pension pot.

If it’s grown by more than you expected, you may be able to take a little more out. If it’s gone down more than you expected, you may want to think about taking a lower amount for a time until your pension pot has recovered a bit.

How much you take out and how often are two of the main factors affecting how long your income might last, so it’s important to consider this carefully.

How should I choose what to invest in?

There are several options and approaches you could use. Which one is right for you will depend on your circumstances and objectives.

A good way to approach this is to think about how hands-on you want to be with managing your investments in retirement and how much knowledge and experience you have.

You could choose to:

  • use a financial adviser
  • use ready-made investment options
  • create your own portfolio.

Getting financial advice

Most people don’t have the experience needed to safely manage their own investments confidently, so are happier to leave it to a financial adviser.

An adviser can look at your health and financial position – including your attitude to risk –  so they will then be able to create a financial plan that’s suited to you.

It will include assessing which products are best able to meet your needs.

If a flexible retirement income product is suitable, they can look at how much money would be suitable to take out of your pot and recommend how to invest the rest to achieve your goals.

They can also see how different scenarios could affect you in the future.

If you’re happy with the plan, your adviser can then get everything set up for you. They will usually review your plan with you every year to make sure you're still on course for the retirement you want, and that your income still meets your needs.

arrow icon

Ready-made investment options

Depending on the type of your pension and who it’s with, your pension provider may offer ready-made investment options that help simplify the decisions about how to invest your remaining pension pot.

There may be differences in how these options work or who they’re appropriate for, so speak to your provider to find out if they offer them.  If so, ask for the options to be explained. 

If you’re in certain workplace pensions or if you’re in a pension that you’ve set up yourself such as a personal, stakeholder or self-invested personal pension, you might be offered the option to invest in an investment pathway. An investment pathway is a ready-made investment option linked to one of four retirement objectives that you can choose between.

The pathway is based on what plans you might have for your money over the next five years. The pathway is managed by your provider, so you don’t need to worry about choosing your investments.

arrow icon

Creating your own portfolio

If you’re thinking about creating your own portfolio, then you can draw down your capital – from cash, by selling investments or by choosing investments that produce income. Building a portfolio that uses all three approaches, could give you the best chance of making your money last as long as you need it to.

Cash

Keeping some of your pension pot in cash (say, in a cash account, term deposit account or cash fund ) can be a good idea because it means your immediate income needs can always be met.

This can be a big advantage when markets are down as it means you don’t need to sell investments when prices are low. That will help to protect the value of your pension pot over the long term.

Just remember to keep an eye on your cash pot and top it up if you need to.

Investing all your pension pot in cash is generally a bad idea unless you’re planning to take it all out in a short period of time.

There are two reasons for this.

First, without your money growing, the length of time your money will last is simply the value of your pension pot divided by the amount of annual income you want to take. For example, if you have £100,000 and you take £5,000 a year, this will last 20 years and no more. If you live longer than 20 years, and many people will, you’ll get nothing from this cash pot.

Second, inflation generally means that prices will rise over the long term. So the money you take out today will not buy the same amount in 5, 10, 15 or 20 years’ time.

This means you may need to take more money from your cash pot to maintain your living standards. And, if you increase your withdrawal amounts, your pension pot will run out even quicker.

Income-generating investments

When you’re retired, income-generating investments can be a good option for investingyour pension pot. They include bond funds, income funds and multi-asset funds.

You could choose to invest in government or company bonds, or company shares that pay dividends rather than funds, but these tend to be more risky.

One benefit of investing in funds is that they hold investments with lots of different companies. This can help to smooth out the ups and downs in share price and income, giving you more certainty when compared to holding individual investments yourself.

A fund is also looked after by a professional manager who’ll review and make changes to its holdings from time to time.

Any income that funds pay out can be used to help pay any regular income you have set up or to top up your cash pot. This type of fund may also keep paying you an income even if markets drop. This means you may be able to keep your income or cash pot topped up, and it may help you avoid having to sell any of your income investments or growth investments. This helps to protect the value of your pension pot over the long term. 

Growth investments

For your pension pot to last a long time (20 years or more), you’ll want to continue to try and get it to grow. Keeping some of your pension pot invested in growth investments – such as funds that invest in company shares – can help you grow your pension pot, helping your savings to keep pace with inflation.

However, there is risk involved and the value of shares will go up and down.

If your investments do go down there can still be time for them to recover, although this is not guaranteed, and you might not get back what you invested.  When markets are favourable, you could also sell down some of these investments so you can top up your pension pot.

How often should I review my investments?

You should monitor the investments in your pension pot regularly, at least once a year, to see how they’re performing. The more often you review them, the greater chance you have of spotting any early warning signs of potential trouble ahead.

Things to keep track of include:

  • the value of your pension and investments.
  • the amount you're taking out (you may want to adjust it up or down depending on how the value of your pension has changed since you last reviewed it).
  • your income needs.
  • your attitude to risk and ability to handle any losses.

If there has been a change to any of the above, you may want to consider:

  • increasing or reducing the amounts you are taking out, depending on how your pension’s value has changed since you last reviewed it
  • whether keeping your pension pot invested is still the right thing for you
  • if a change is needed to the investments you have chosen
  • if it might be useful to get a financial adviser to review everything for you.

If you have a financial adviser, they can keep a watchful eye on your investments. They will explain to you how they’ll manage this as well as agreeing with you how often they’ll review your overall retirement plan to check it still meets your needs. 

Was this information useful?
Thank you for your feedback.
We’re always trying to improve our website and services, and your feedback helps us understand how we’re doing.
Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

Continue to website
Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

Continue to website
Looking for us? Now, we’re MoneyHelper

MoneyHelper is the new, easy way to get clear, free,
impartial help for all your money and pension choices.
Whatever your circumstances or plans, move forward with MoneyHelper.

Continue to website
Talk to us live for…
Talk to us live for…
Talk to us live for pensions guidance using…
Talk to us live for money guidance using…
Hours
  • Mon – Fri:9.00am – 5.00pm
  • Sat, Sun and bank holidays:Closed

* Calls are free. We’re committed to providing you with a quality service, so calls may be recorded or monitored for training purposes and to help us develop our services.

Talk to us live for money guidance using the telephone
Hours
  • Mon – Fri:8.00am – 6.00pm
  • Sat, Sun and bank holidays:Closed

* Calls are free. We’re committed to providing you with a quality service, so calls may be recorded or monitored for training purposes and to help us develop our services.

Talk to us live for pensions guidance using web chat
Hours
  • Mon – Fri:9.00am – 6.00pm
  • Sat, Sun and bank holidays:Closed
Talk to us live for money guidance using webchat
Hours
  • Mon – Fri:8.00am – 6.00pm
  • Sat:8.00am – 3.00pm
  • Sun and bank holidays:Closed
Talk to us for pensions guidance using our web form

We aim to respond within 5 working days

Talk to us for money guidance using our web form

We aim to respond within 2 working days

Talk to us live for money guidance using WhatsApp

Download app: WhatsApp

For help sorting out your debts or credit questions. For everything else please contact us via Webchat or telephone.