How to get financially fit for your retirement


    Retirement marks a significant milestone in life, a period where you can finally take a step back and unwind. But financially preparing for retirement is extremely important. People are living longer and leading more active lives in retirement. As a result, it is more important than ever for you to think about where your income will come from when you retire. Here are a couple of the essential steps we advise in ensuring you are financially fit for your retirement.

    1. Start Early, Save Wisely

    One of the golden rules of retirement planning is to start as early as possible (but it is also never too late!). The power of compounding works wonders over time. Even small, regular contributions to your retirement fund can grow substantially over the years. Remember there is significant tax relief on pension contributions that you can also avail of.

    2. Set Clear Financial Goals

    Determine your retirement goals – where you want to live, what activities you want to pursue, and the kind of lifestyle you wish to have. If you have a clear vision, it will help you estimate how much money you need to save for a comfortable retirement.

    3. Create a Budget and Stick to It

    Budgeting is crucial at every stage of life, but it becomes even more more when you’re preparing for retirement. Track your expenses, identify unnecessary costs, and allocate funds towards your retirement savings. You need to ensure that you are putting something aside on a regular basis in order to fund your retirement.

    4. Diversify Investments

    Diversification is key to managing risk. Spread your investments across various asset classes like stocks, bonds, real estate, and mutual funds. Diversification can help you achieve better returns while mitigating potential losses. Many pension plans offer access to multi-asset funds at different risk levels which can help you diversify.

    5. Clear Debts Before Retiring

    Entering retirement with debt can put a significant strain on your finances. Prioritize clearing high-interest debts like your mortgage and credit cards. Being debt-free allows you to enjoy your retirement without the burden of monthly payments.

    6. Consider a Part-Time Job or Hobbies for Income

    This is something that we get asked about a lot. Retirement doesn’t necessarily mean you have to stop working altogether. Many more people are reducing their hours or switching to a different part-time job or even pursuing hobbies that generate income rather than simply not earning or relying on their pension alone. Not only does this provide financial support, but it also keeps you engaged and active.

    7. Plan for Longevity

    With advancements in healthcare, people are living longer. Plan your finances with the expectation that you might live well into your 80s or 90s. This means ensuring your savings can sustain you for several decades. Retiring at 68 could mean you still have 20 + years ahead of you.

    8. Seek Professional Financial Advice

    If navigating the complexities of retirement planning seems daunting, don’t hesitate to seek advice from Quintas Wealth Management. That’s what we’re here for.  We’ll help you select the right pension for you. Just get in touch to start planning your financially fit retirement.

    The coming of age for PRSA’s

    PRSA’s are growing in popularity having had a very low uptake when they were initially introduced. Our Head of Life & Pensions, Anne O’Doherty looks at this current trend, the drivers behind it and why there is a coming of age for PRSAs.

    What is a PRSA?

    For many years a Personal Pension was the main option for retirement savings for those who were self-employed or not in a company pension plan. This changed in 2003 with the introduction of Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs). In essence, a Personal Pension and a PRSA are designed to do the same thing. That is to provide a way of saving for retirement. They benefit from the same tax treatment and access funds in the same way. But a PRSA was designed to be more flexible and transferable.

    What are the benefits of a PRSA?

    The main benefits of a PRSA are linked to its flexibility and transferability. These include being available regardless of your job or employment status, being able to increase, decrease or stop contributions at any stage without penalty and being able to transfer to another provider. In addition, a PRSA give you more options at retirement. For example, you can continue making contributions after you retire, while also receiving a pension income.

    Can an Employer contribute to a PRSA?

    Yes, an Employer may contribute to employees’ PRSAs but are not obliged to do so. Their obligation lies in providing access to the PRSA. Where an employer doesn’t have a pension scheme they need to provide employees with access to at least one standard PRSA. They must allow the PRSA provider or intermediary reasonable access to the employees at their workplace and facilitate payroll deduction of contributions.

    Is BIK charged on PRSA contributions?

    One of the biggest changes to PRSAs and a driving factor in their growing popularity was the removal of the Benefit-in-kind (BIK) charge on Employer contributions. Where contributions were previously treated as a BIK for the purposes of employee income tax, these contributions will now not attract a tax charge for an employee. Since the 1st of January 2023, Employees can pay unlimited BIK free contributions to a PRSA for an employee including company directors. These contributions will not be limited by salary and service, existing scheme funding or retained benefits.

    When is a PRSA a good option?

    The flexibility and transferability of PRSAs always made them a good option for certain people. A combination of factors has now thrown this net much wider and makes them attractive in several other circumstances. These include the option as an alternative to a group pension scheme, especially for smaller companies. BIK has been removed and this is a valuable benefit for employees. PRSA’s can be a flexible alternative to a Master Trust in place of an Executive Pension scheme.

    Next steps

    The flexibility that PRSA’s offer and the breadth of fund choices, now coupled with the additional funding options, make them a very attractive option for those wishing to start saving for their retirement. Several of the product providers have recently launched new PRSA product ranges. This is to ensure that they meet clients’ needs in as easy a way as possible. If you’d like to find out what the best options are for your own circumstances just get in touch with us at Quintas Wealth Management. We’re happy to talk you through your choices.

    ARFs and Annuities – what happens after you retire?

    We talk a lot about saving for your retirement and starting a pension plan. But what actually happens when you retire? You have built up a pension fund so what do you do next?

    There are two main options available for you to choose from at this stage, an Approved Retirement Fund (ARF) or an Annuity.

    An ARF is a post-retirement investment fund typically used to invest any retirement funds remaining after taking a tax-free cash. The funds transferred to an ARF can be drawn down in a flexible way during retirement. 

    An Annuity is an investment option for your pension fund. It guarantees to pay you a particular amount every month throughout your life in retirement.

    These two options, while both are for when you retire, provide very different solutions. How to use your pension fund to provide for their retirement is one of the most important decisions you have to make. Which option is the right one for you depends on various factors including value of your fund, level of income required and your state of health.

    This recent article in Irish Broker Magazine gives a very good comparison of the two options. We are happy to help guide you through these differences in relation to your own circumstances to help you make the decision that best suits you. Just get in touch today for an initial chat because we know what counts.

    Planning your financial future – what to know about asset transfer

    The old cliché comes to mind when discussing succession planning. You know the one, death and taxes…. You’ve worked hard all your life to own your home, pay off debts, secured large deposits/investments, purchase a second property… the list goes on. Now you’re faced with the scenario where your beneficiaries have to sell a portion of these assets in order to satisfy the tax man. They will only benefit from as little as 66% of the value of said property. But by understanding the scenarios and asset transfer they can avoid this.

    What are the scenarios?

    Broadly speaking there are three scenarios that can be come about:

    1. Transfer ownership while you’re living. Thus discharging all responsibility to your beneficiaries before you die
    2. Make provisions for your wishes upon death
    3. Untimely death without provisions being made

    Did you know you have the option to mitigate the potential tax bill for your beneficiaries with two of these scenarios? Even where you believe you won’t incur a tax bill for the transfer, it is worth considering the future. Remember current Revenue CAT thresholds and tax rates are only that, current! It would be remiss to take them as guaranteed.

    A closer look at Scenario 2

    Scenario 2 is the most frequently seen case that our clients present. Yes they have a Will. And some level of discussion has been had with adult children, extended family and beneficiaries. Yes too there will be a big tax liability. There’s not much can be done about that. At least that is the perception without exploring all the options. 

    What our clients don’t always know is that provisions can be made to protect your loved ones from this tax bill. One such provision is what’s known here in Ireland as a Section 72 policy. It is a life assurance policy. But unlike a typical life policy, it does not create an additional tax bill in the hands of your estate.

    Example: Section 72 Policy

    The below example gives a very crude example of the difference.

              Let’s assume you have one beneficiary (a child) who has already availed of their full Category one CAT threshold of €335,000 when you transferred your second property to them 5 years ago     

    Scenario 1 incurs a Revenue bill of €264,000 for the beneficiary. That is 88% of your cash and investments go straight to Revenue. Scenario 2 incurs a bill of €660 with the family home. 100% of cash and investments to into the hand of your elected beneficiary.

    Another, less known about option, is a Section 73 savings policy. The regular investment policy is set up at the outset with this option included. Premiums are paid for a minimum of 8 years, the person(s) giving the gift/inheritance takes out the policy; they are also the owner(s) of the policy. Once you have met the criteria for the Section 73 relief, after 8 years the policy can be encashed and proceeds used to pay the gift tax liability.

    Next Steps

    Financial Advisors the length and breath of the country talk about risk daily. Market risk, volatility factors, capital at risk, the list goes on. What greater risk is there to those you care about most than your untimely death without a Will or with a significant change that was put on the long finger.

    If you’d like to take a closer look at planning your financial future, asset transfer options and what kind of plan is right for your circumstances, just get in touch with us at Quintas Wealth Management, because we know what counts.

    Why start retirement planning early

    There has been a big focus on pensions over the course of 2022. From concern around the impact of market volatility to the Government proposals on auto-enrolment and the recent tax deadlines. But one thing remains clear it is never too late to start your retirement planning. And it is also never too early!

    It is clear that younger age groups have little interest in retirement planning. The chart below demonstrates that age is a significant motivational factor when it comes to retirement planning. Interest is low at a younger age and there is only a significant increase when an individual reaches their late forties and into their fifties. While it is not too late to start a pension at that stage, it does leave far less time to make a meaningful provision.

    The sooner you start to make a provision for your retirement, the easier it is financially for two main reasons:

    • The cost of the outlay is spread over a longer period and so the financial impact is reduced
    • Investing early and staying invested allows more time and potential for your savings to grow

    There are many reasons cited for not starting a pension earlier. These range from paying off student loans, saving to purchase a home to not considering you can afford to start or just simply not getting around to it. However, the fact is it’s never too early to start saving for retirement. Once you start working and can set aside even a small amount each month, you will be on your way to building a fund. Then as you earn more in your career, you can increase the amount you contribute.

    The key is to start. The sooner you can start to save money for the future, the more secure you’re going to feel about retirement. So, no matter what age you are or what stage of your career, it’s worth thinking about your pension. Just get in touch if you’d like to start the conversation.

    5 Top Questions About – Pensions

    It’s that time of year again. A lot of people are thinking about pensions to gain the benefit from the upcoming tax deadlines. But there’s been a lot of questions about pensions this year. From market volatility to auto-enrolment, it can seem like a bit of a minefield. Here, Anne O’Doherty, our Head of Life & Pensions answers the most commonly asked questions we have received and shares our view on how best to manage your pension.

    I haven’t started a pension yet, when is the right time to do this?

    Saving for retirement is extremely important. People are living longer and leading more active lives in retirement. As a result, it is more important than ever for you to think about where your income will come from when you retire. Starting a pension is one of the smartest decisions you can make. The earlier you start the better. But it is also never too late to start planning for the financial future you want. Have a look at this Pension and Retirement Calculator on our website. It can give you help with your retirement planning and to see you how much you need to put away for later in life.

    I’ve read a lot of headlines about auto-enrolment recently – what is it?

    Quite simply auto-enrolment is a new scheme announced by Government earlier this year. The aim of it is to try to encourage people to make adequate provision for their income at retirement. It will work by having employers automatically enrol their employees into a workplace pension scheme. It is aimed at those people who currently are not in a company pension scheme. The Government has estimated this number to be around 750k between the ages of 23 and 60 (earning more than €20,000). Our recent blog covered all aspects of auto-enrolment, and you can read it here.

    Is my pension safe given the current market volatility?

    We are being asked this a lot by our clients given the rocky year markets have endured. The first and most important thing to remember is that a pension is a long-term investment. By their nature markets have ups and downs but over the course of an investment these tend to level out. There are many factors that can affect the markets. Volatility is usually caused by political and economic factors, industry or sector changes or even individual company news. While it can be difficult to witness any declines in your portfolio, it is important to apply logic and not act out of emotion. The most important thing for an investor to do is hold their course. History has shown that those who have stayed invested during previous periods of market volatility have achieved their original investment objectives.

    I’m getting nearer retirement, should I make any changes to my pension arrangements?

    As a general rule you need to be between 60 and 75 years of age to take your pension benefits. If you are are about 10 years from your retirement age, then there are a few things you need to start considering. There are lots of things that you have had to think about to date – building your career, paying the mortgage, educating your children and maybe even saving for a rainy day. These are important. But as you start approaching retirement it’s now important to take advantage of the last 10 years of your working life to make sure you maximise your financial position when you do retire. This can mean increasing regular contributions, making additional lump sum contributions or switching funds to lower risk options. Depending on your own personal circumstances, we can talk you through what the best approach is now.

    What is the tax situation for my pension contributions?

    It is safe to say that a pension is one of the most tax-efficient ways of saving money. Tax relief is the greatest benefit of saving into a pension. If you’re paying tax at 20%, then you’re entitled to 20% back on pension contributions. If you’re paying tax on your salary at the highest rate, then you’re entitled to get 40% back on any pension contribution that you make. So, it doesn’t cost as much as you may have thought to save for retirement. You can also benefit from higher limits for tax relief as you get older as these are age-related.

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