You and your finances: The changing face of retirement

Retirement is very different to how it used to be. What once was somewhat of a ‘one size fits all’ solution is now much more involved and dynamic, with a multitude of decisions to make – and this is where having an expert by your side will make all the difference.


  • In the past, most people used to ‘set and forget’ their retirement, leaving no further pension and investment decisions to make and no real need for advice.
  • Nowadays, however, the approach to retirement requires you to make decisions throughout and assess your ever-evolving priorities and needs.
  • Having an expert by your side is a must for your overall retirement journey.

Particularly in these unusual times, many of us may lament that ‘things aren’t as they used to be’ –  retirement included. Not all that long ago, it was considered to be the end of the journey, with the majority of people retiring on reaching state-pension age, and the job of saving and investing broadly done.

The modern take on it is quite different. Retirement is significantly more dynamic now – in fact, you could say that it’s more of a new chapter than the end of the journey.

In recent years, a number of factors have combined, transforming the retirement landscape as we know it, such as rising longevity, the decline of final-salary pensions, and the ‘pension freedoms’ that opened up access to pension savings and introduced new flexibility around retirement-income decisions.

Tony Clark, Senior Propositions Manager at St. James’s Place, remarks:

“You used to get to a certain age and stop. People would retire, and while they might have taken advice at that point, it wasn’t usually the case. But there are so many choices to make now and you have to treat it as a new beginning. People are realising that the ‘set-and-forget’ approach doesn’t really exist anymore.”

Pause and reflect

Most people now enter drawdown on retirement and remain invested, meaning the option of sitting back and letting your pension income do its own thing is off limits. While it goes without saying that the modern approach gives you greater choice and flexibility, it also involves increased decision-making.

Such decisions will likely develop over a retirement journey that could last for up to three decades or more. “It’s important to bear in mind that retirement isn’t a fixed line. It is completely different now, and the decisions you make at 60 may not be appropriate at 65 or 70, and so on,” notes Clark.

“It’s the same as your working life, with ups and downs and changing circumstances – none of that goes away. You may even end up returning to work, starting a business or embarking on a new career.”

According to Clark, many people are still getting their head around what the changing pension landscape means for them and what they need to action. Indeed, there’s plenty of flexibility and freedom; yet there’s also a substantial amount of responsibility and, therefore, a much greater need for pension advice.

As Clark rightly highlights, the intrinsic trigger points of modern retirement mean that speaking with an adviser is a need, not a want.

“Your sources of income will be different, for example, so you need an adviser to guide where you take your income from. Are you taking it from the right assets? Are you taking too much income or too little? Are the underlying investments structured in the right way or do you need to reconfigure them? You need to have a plan and an adviser on your side to figure it all out.”

Change is inevitable

There are other factors to consider, too. Your priorities and values will be ever-evolving, plus there will be developments to tackle and new stages of the journey to handle – particularly, for example, when considering how to meet long-term care costs and manage Inheritance Tax.

Climate change is an area that an increased number of retirees are engaging with, using their money as a force for good with responsible investing. With a considerable proportion of pension savings still invested in retirement, retired investors can make a marked difference by having a say in how and where their money goes. There are unquestionably more ways than ever before to invest your pension in such a way that benefits future generations; however, choices abound here too.

Clark concludes:

“The way that your investments are structured and how your money is invested can help you make an impact and a difference. But again, do this with an adviser so that any decisions you make are fully informed.”

Those investment plans – and other financial arrangements you have in place – need to align with your short- and long-term goals, which will no doubt shift over time.

The reality is that the decisions you make before and during retirement may need updating and reviewing. To be sure that this is done to your advantage, all the while fitting in with your overall retirement plan, work with your financial adviser to ensure everything’s moving in the right direction.

The value of an investment with St. James’s Place will be directly linked to the performance of the funds selected and may fall as well as rise. You may get back less than the amount invested.

The levels and bases of taxation and reliefs from taxation can change at any time and are dependent on individual circumstances.

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