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Flexible Access Drawdown –The real thing or just another Pensions FAD?

The pension changes announced as part of the Government’s 2014 Budget were met with much excitement within the industry as people tried to get to grips with the planning opportunities that may become available after April 2015.

The underlying theme of all of the changes announced was to offer those pension savers not in final salary schemes, greater flexibility and control of how and when they take their benefits. As George Osborne said during his Budget speech “People who have worked hard and saved hard all their lives, and done the right thing, should be trusted with their own finances. And that’s precisely what we will now do. Trust the people.”

One of the main indicators of this trust comes in the form of Flexible Access Drawdown (FAD) which will allow for an unlimited level of income to be drawn following the payment of any tax free cash entitlement. However, entering ‘FAD’ will bring with it some restrictions, such as a reduced money purchase annual allowance of £10,000 pa (down from the standard £40,000 pa) which will limit any future contributions.

Inevitably, with flexibility comes complication as more options are available to individuals with regards to their pension benefits. For example;

  • Will all pension providers be able to offer FAD within existing pension plan structures?
  • How long will the accrued pension fund last between starting to take benefits and the day you die and then will anyone still be dependent upon the pension fund?

If individuals can take as much or as little as they want from their pension funds, it will become more important to fund for an appropriate amount to be available at retirement date.

It will be even more important to plan the aggregation of pension funds to use in the future and by default getting expert advice on how best to achieve this. To ask Mr Osborne a question in response to his comments, do the people trust themselves?