I am often asked by friends and experts how much is required to save for a good retirement?, to which my response is usually along the lines of “how long is a piece of string?”
I am sure most advisers feel the same about this question but encouraging individuals to start thinking about their own personal situations is, I'm sure, the key to getting the right answer, or at least an answer in the right direction.
The first thing I always do in these situations, is to ask people to think about the retirement they want.
Some will want a nice quiet life, pottering in the garden, visiting local family and friends.
Others, like me, want to see more, drinking various cocktails looking at different sunsets (or sunrises) all over the world as long as I can.
As I am sure you can tell, these lifestyles sound like they are very different in terms of cost. A key consideration which many will also want to consider, is the financial support they may wish to provide their children and grandchildren.
Personally, I don’t have kids or grandkids that I may want to help onto the property ladder or help send to university, I only have myself and my husband to think about. However, for others, factoring in any additional support they envisage providing family in retirement will help identify how much they need to save for retirement.
It is this thinking and planning that can result in what we often call the ‘magic number’; the amount they need to retire.
The next thing I like to remind them of, is that it isn’t all about pensions. There is so much pressure on the young to save into pensions and I strongly believe that putting away what you can is the right thing to do.
However, locking it all up for 20 or more years does not give the flexibility that many require. The past year has taught us that unexpected financial setbacks are inevitable. As a result, many people will prefer to have easier access to their funds should any further hurdles arise.
I always make sure to remind those who are planning ahead to check what they have. It is very important, I tell them, to know what your state pension is, what pension you already have saved and understand the implications of these on an overall plan. It is a simple case of collecting all the information into one place.
This may all sound like I am suggesting a DIY approach to retirement planning but without your clients having a good base knowledge of what they have and what they want it can make giving advice so much harder.
Claire Trott is director and head of pensions strategy at Technical Connection, part of St James’s Place Group, and chair of the Association of Member-Directed Pension Schemes (AMPS) - the SIPP and SSAS providers body.