We all want a happy, secure future with enough money to see us comfortably through the various stages of our lives.
This includes retirement, which should be a time to fully enjoy life after leaving work.
However, this won’t happen by itself – it needs careful planning, plus an understanding of the rules surrounding pensions and how we can access our money.
One of the most important lessons about retirement planning is that it’s never too early to start. Retirement itself may seem a long way away, but the extra contributions will help to create a stronger pension pot to eventually draw from.
Another consideration is seeking guidance from an expert who can offer professional insight into the sometimes mind-boggling range of financial products on offer.
This is where the West Brom can help. We’ve teamed up with independent financial advisers from Wren Sterling to stage a series of retirement planning clinics across our branch network this month.
Customers can book a place in advance for a short, informal meeting with an adviser. Lasting about half an hour, it’s an opportunity to ask questions about pensions and retirement without having to make any immediate decisions about investments.
If you’re approaching retirement age, this could mean understanding a bit more about your current plans, what your pension is likely to provide for you and how this compares with the sort of lifestyle you want during retirement.
At the other end of the scale, the meetings are perfect for someone who needs help on where to start and the various options available for setting money aside for the future.
Nikki Willis, the West Brom’s Partnership Manager, said: “When we hear about pensions and retirement it often sounds very ‘doom and gloom’, with people not expected to have enough money later on in life to sustain their current lifestyle.
“However we shouldn’t be put off from discussing retirement and getting help from those who have knowledge and experience in this field. It’s worth remembering that the end goal is actually something to look forward to – a fulfilling and satisfying retirement.
“As long as people have planned carefully and saved regularly, there’s no reason why this shouldn’t be possible when the time to retire comes around.”
Last summer the West Brom carried out a survey with members of its customer panel in which 32 per cent of respondents said they hadn’t yet started saving for retirement. Of those who were saving already, 39 per cent were not confident that they knew how much they needed to put aside in order to fund the retirement they want.
Most were expecting to fund their retirement through state and workplace pensions, while 42 per cent also had private pension schemes in place. Rather alarmingly, seven per cent didn’t yet know how their retirement would be paid for.
Nikki Willis added: “These responses highlight the importance of talking about retirement sooner rather than later, which is why we are aiming to facilitate such conversations through our in-branch clinics.
“Financial services can be complicated, so having expert help will offer people some much-needed reassurance.”
Retirement planning clinics begin on Monday, 11 February at West Brom branches in Shirley and Stourbridge. To check dates for events at your nearest branch, or to book an appointment with an independent financial adviser, please click here.