So, you have spent years building up your pension fund, working hard and saving diligently. Now comes the really hard decision, how do you turn the money you have created into an income?

Lifetime Annuity, Enhanced Annuity, Fixed Term Annuity, Income Drawdown, Phased Retirement, the choice seems endless.

We thought we would use our years of experience to put together some top tips for a better retirement income and here they are:

1. Open Market Option

This may sound obvious but many people accept the Annuity offered by their current pension provider. Don’t ever do this until you have shopped around to see if a better rate or more suitable solution can be found.

This is probably this simplest, yet the most effective way of increasing your retirement income.

2. Enhanced Annuities

If you don’t think you qualify for an Enhanced Annuity then check again. Many people come to us thinking that they don’t qualify when in fact they do. If they had not checked they would have turned their back on a higher income for life.

If you do think you qualify make sure all medical conditions and lifestyle factors are taken into account, not just the ones you think are important.

A full review of your medical and lifestyle history really can improve your retirement income.

3. Take advice

With the way we work you really do have nothing to lose. We do not start to charge fees or agree to accept commissions until we have agreed that you will implement our proposal. You can therefore work out very simply whether you think the improvement we have made to your level of retirement income is worthwhile. If you don’t you simply walk away, no fees, no bill, it really is as simple as that.

4. Negotiate

If your fund size is large we would be happy to reduce the level of commission we receive from the Annuity provider, this would increase the income you receive. Alternatively you may be better off paying for advice via a fee with 100% of the commission rebated back, again increasing the income that you receive.

Annuity providers really do want to win your business and to do so will negotiate with us to push rates up. This tends to happen on funds in excess of £50,000 and is essentially due to the volume of business that we give to them. By working with us, we will negotiate with the leading providers to try and increase the income your Annuity gives you; our clients have found the results of doing this to be excellent in the past.

5. Consider other options

We often find that the level of income, whilst important, is not the only priority. For example what happens to your pension fund and the income produced may be of equal or even greater importance.

Consider other methods of providing a retirement income such as Income Drawdown or a Fixed Term Annuity so you can be sure that you really are making the correct decision.

6. Think the unthinkable

There are times when even the strangest idea can be worth considering. Take for example Final Salary pensions, these are generally perceived as the safest, most generous forms of pension available. However, there are a small number of times when a better income can be obtained from an Annuity than from the Final Salary scheme itself. These occasions are rare and advice must be taken. The point we make is simple though, check out the alternatives, take advice and then make a decision.

Deciding how to take an income from your pension fund is one of the most important financial decisions you will ever take. We are here to help you make that decision, whether you just want an informal chat on the phone or would like our advice, we are here to help you make the right decisions.