Having the foresight to plan ahead
Pat Scully has worked hard and made some sacrifices along the way so he can enjoy a good quality of life when he reaches retirement
“I could have had a bigger bucket list if I had planned my pension earlier in life.” Photograph: Shutterstock.
When retirement comes it can be an exciting time for many people who are looking forward to having the time, and hopefully money, for the type of retirement lifestyle they have always dreamt of. And Pat Scully is no exception.
Pat is technical services supervisor for Acacia Facilities Management – a busy job that requires meticulous planning to ensure the consistent supply of direct and indirect services to the business. No two days are the same according to Pat, and he thrives on the variety his job gives him.
Aged 62, Pat would like to retire when he is 65 but understands that circumstances and priorities might change over the coming years. One thing he is certain about is that he needs to decide what he wants to do with his free time when he does retire. “I have started to plan for my retirement as I don’t want to just stop working and have nothing to do,” he says.
He is also acutely aware of the importance of saving into a pension as early as possible.
“I have 19 years’ service with different facilities management companies, but my pension has always been with Zurich. This has stabilised my pension situation, as all contributions from all my employers went into the one pension source. I feel that this was critical as I could contact one person who was very helpful in guiding me along the pension road. My biggest regret is that I didn’t start this process sooner as my annual pension at 65 will need to be supplemented until the State pension becomes available to me.”
Having expert advice to hand has been invaluable to Pat as he negotiates his pension saving options, and now as he embarks on planning his retirement.
As with pension planning, Pat’s investment strategy has changed over the years. “Being a late starter, I have tried to increase my own payments into the fund. Following the advice from my pension advisor, I have reduced the risk over the years as I got older, in order to protect the funds that I had accumulated.”
Saving into a pension for nearly 20 years, Pat has had to make some sacrifices along the way, but today when he sees his annual report he is glad he was in a position to keep up these contributions. “There were periods over the years that I came under pressure and thought of changing my contributions to the pension fund,” he says. “This was when my children were attending college and for things like unforeseeable house repairs. I managed with the usual cut backs such as less socialising and was able to maintain the current fund contributions.”
When nearing retirement it’s only natural to visualise what you want your new life to look like, minus work. For Pat, good health in retirement is key, and he has a wish list of things he wants to do too.
“I’m really looking forward to my retirement and hope I will have the funds to carry out the wish list”, he says. “Maybe I could have had a bigger bucket list if I had planned my pension earlier in life and not left it so late to start.”
Having a wish list is all well and good but knowing how much you will need to fund this lifestyle is another thing entirely. Pat knows that living only on the State pension would not be easy so he is grateful he has his pension to support him and his family. But he says that if he had his time again he would put more money aside each month and he would start saving at a younger age.
The importance of engaging with a good financial advisor cannot be underestimated as it can be difficult to make sound financial decisions without expert guidance. This is especially the case when making decisions on more complex issues such as devising an investment strategy or planning your pension.
“I greatly appreciate the guidance that I have received from my financial advisor in guiding me through the best possible solution for me and my investments,” Pat says.
He also has good advice for young people who he says should start saving into a pension sooner rather than later.
“If young people aren’t thinking about a pension they should at least speak to a pension advisor to get an understanding of how long it takes to build a fund that will give them back a reasonable return on their investment.” He also maintains that even if they only set aside a small amount each week, they will see how much they can save in a pension with no major impact on their day-to-day lives. “The earlier the better and with tax relief incentives, it really is a no brainer,” he adds.
For people starting on their pension savings journey it can be hard to think far into the future, something that Pat agrees with. Likewise hindsight is a great thing. “As I approach retirement, I look back at the funds that I could have saved instead of spending foolishly. When you are young you don’t think very far ahead because you feel you can do anything, make as much money as you want and you won’t have to worry about a pension. Young people think pensions are for old people, and they don’t appreciate that they too will get old someday.”
Pat’s own father gave him good advice to always save for a rainy day. And now Pat is advising his children to do the same in the hope that they will be more financially secure when they reach retirement.
“You have to have confidence in your pension advisor and provider. Having a pension with Zurich over the last 19 years has given me that confidence and I would recommend Zurich pensions to my family, friends and colleagues without hesitation.”
It’s important to plan for the future. The choices you make now could make a real difference. Starting a pension is a smart decision. At Zurich we are here to help you every step of the way. Speak to a financial advisor or contact Zurich directly to find out how you can be Future Ready.
Zurich Life Assurance plc is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland