Almost everyone has a pension of some sort that could probably benefit from a review.

Whether this is an old or existing company pension, a personal pension, retirement plan or even a newer SIPP (self invested personal pension), my guess is that you would benefit from a review to ensure it is doing what you need it to.

The truth is that most people put what they can into a pension and hope for the best when they reach retirement. That is a fairly uncertain way to approach one of, if the the, most important investment you will ever make (towards your financial security anyway).

Your pension is your key to the door of retirement. It will allow you to earn income with having to work for it. As soon as you have enough income that you do not have to work for, also known as passive income, you can officially afford to retire. The sooner you get to that stage the sooner you can retire.

So let us get started. If you have a pension or a number of pensions:

Step 1The first thing to do is to work out what you have. How many plans, what are they worth, who are they with etc.

Step 2Once you know this you can add up what they are all worth and work out roughly what income that could earn you right now. The standard and quick way of doing that is simply to divide your total pension assets by 20. That is by no means a reliable prediction of what income you will get, but works as a rough calculation for now. Of course if some or all of your pensions are company pensions then you probably already have the exact income figure.

Step 3If the income figure you have just worked out is not enough, think about your other sources of pension income. Will you get a State Pension? If so, how much will that be? You can request a forecast here: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Diol1/DoItOnline/DG_189931 Have you any pensions from years ago that you may have forgotten about? Did you pay into a company pension but have no paperwork on this now? Worry not, there is a Pension Tracing Service that can help you find lost pensions, click here for contact details: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/pensionsandretirementplanning/companyandpersonalpensions/dg_10027189

Step 4Once you have rounded up all of your pensions think about how good they are. If they are company pensions, is the pension fund safe and well funded? You should be able to call the pension trustee and find out some basic information about the pension fund. If you have personal pensions, stakeholder pensions, SIPPs etc. then you will want to work out whether they are invested according to your needs? What are the annual charges of the pension plan? Are they worth it? How have the funds performed since you started investing? What is the alternative fund choice if the performance is poor? When considering charges you will need to take into account the plan charge, the fund charges, the buying/switching charges plus any other administration charges. Your pension provider should be able to provide this information.

Step 5If at this point you are not happy with any aspect of your pension, e.g. if it seems to be charging too much, not performing well enough, not giving you sufficient fund choice, does not seem to be well funded (company pensions), then it is probably best to speak to a good independent financial adviser.

I should say that this is not an exhaustive list of all the possible considerations you could take into account, but is hopefully helpful nevertheless.

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Blog by Jaskarn Pawar

Jaskarn Pawar is an experienced and award winning Chartered and Certified Financial Planner. He advises people all over the UK on financial planning and wealth management issues to help them reach solutions to fit their personal needs. You can contact Jaskarn on 01604 211234 or by e-mail on jaskarn@investorprofile.co.uk