James Walker: Does thinking about your pension scare you? I can help

PUBLISHED: 05:00 17 February 2018 | UPDATED: 08:49 17 February 2018

James Walker, from Resolver. Picture: Supplied

James Walker, from Resolver. Picture: Supplied


Are you looking forward to retiring?

It's never too early to start saving for your retirement - even if it's just a little. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.It's never too early to start saving for your retirement - even if it's just a little. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.

After years of the daily grind, you might be fantasising about an extra hour or two in bed and less stress.

But are you prepared for when the great day comes and you’re free from the 9 to 5?

Retirement might seem pretty far away for many people. For others, it’s a constant worry about making ends meet. That’s why we need to have a chat about pensions and retirement planning.

Many of the people I speak to worry because they don’t know much about pensions. So I’m here to say to you: don’t worry!

Pensions are complex, which is why we’re launching a campaign to make things simpler. If you’re struggling, here are the basic facts.

One of the big, off-putting things about pensions is all the terms. So let’s tackle that head on.

Don’t worry about the tons of different types of pensions or complicated explanations. Find out what pension(s) you have first.

If you’re in the market to buy one, ask your adviser to spell it out in simple terms. Then ask them to make it even simpler.

Remember – it’s your money. If you’re paying for advice, that’s the least an expert should be doing for you.

There are three main types of pension. The state pension (paid for by the Government), ‘occupational’ pensions (your pension through work) and private/personal pensions (which does what it says on the tin).

The state pension comes from your National Insurance (NI) contributions over the years. When you get it depends on when you were born, with lots of controversy recently around the decision to move women to the same retirement age as men.

The age itself is creeping ever upwards I’m afraid.

Work pensions come in two main types. Final salary (or defined benefit) pensions are dying out, unfortunately. Most of us have ‘money purchase’ (defined contribution) pensions now.

The difference matters. Final salary pensions generally pay out much more, which is why there’s a big battle between works and bosses over the last few remaining pensions that are final salary.

Worried you’re not saving enough for retirement? The important thing is to deal with it now.

You don’t have to put money in to a pension but you should put some money aside. There are loads of ways you can do this.

Our colleagues at MoneySavingExpert have a great guide at

Some people opt to combine their previous work pensions into one or move their pension to a private one.

If you’re transferring or taking out a private pension, you can’t beat good advice. Make sure you ask for everything to be explained simply and in writing.

Ask how much commission the business/pension company will take. And don’t ever be afraid to say you don’t understand.

If you need more information or want to make a complaint, check out Resolver’s guide at

Our friends at The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) have a great website with tons of information – you can ask them any question that you have on your pension, from finding a missing pension scheme to finding out how much you can save each year tax-free. Have a look at

And if you’re approaching retirement age with a defined contribution pension pot and want to know about your retirement options, speak to Pension Wise

Most importantly, if you’re worried that you aren’t saving enough for retirement or just need help, speak up. You’re not alone.

I want to know if you’re worried about pensions and retirement – so let me know what you think at

• James Walker is the founder of

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