Pensions on the MarchPosted by Olderiswiser Editorial
For most of the year people can go days, or even weeks, without thinking about their pension. However, when it comes to taking stock of the value of your pension pot March is the busiest month of the year as Nathan Long explains.
Let's be honest, very few people regularly check the performance of their pension. It seems we Brits are a predictable lot and as the end of financial year comes around, we begin to take an interest in how our retirement income is shaping up. Planning for your life after work isn’t much fun, but neither is running out of money in retirement. People tend to do their planning when it suits them, so there are pockets of activity throughout the year. The hustle and bustle of the end of tax year acts as a significant catalyst, meaning March is the month in which we really get the bit between our teeth.
Mobile access to your pension is really popular, with the commute to work being the most popular time to check pension values in the week as opposed to over breakfast with a coffee and croissant at the weekend.
The imminent end of the tax year means March is the most popular month to log into your pension account – alongside May. In 2017, March 1st was the busiest day of all.
It’s also the month where our tax relief calculator sees the most action. This doesn’t come as a huge surprise, because the end of tax year tends to force decisions about how to offset your tax bill.
Unsurprisingly, therefore, March and April see the most people paying into their pension.
March is also the month for setting up new regular savings into a pension. There’s a good chance that the end of tax year rush has been hectic enough to inspire people to be better prepared for next year, and manage their finances more effectively in the future.
March doesn’t just see a rush to put money into pensions, it’s also pensions withdrawal season. Pension savers are most likely to look into pension drawdown in March, and most likely to take drawdown payments – in order to squeeze them in before the end of the tax year.
After the rush of the end of the tax year, April can lay claim to one of the less cheerful aspects of pension planning – visits to our longevity calculator. This is actually far more positive than it initially sounds, because it’s a sign that people are considering longevity when they revisit the amount of income they are withdrawing at the beginning of the tax year.
The other spike in longevity calculators is in December, when there’s a chance people are wondering how many more Christmases they are going to have to pay for.
April 2017 also saw the busiest Bank Holiday for pension account log-ins, as people shunned their friends and family on Good Friday in order to check their pension accounts.
Outside of the tax year end, one of the busiest months for taking drawdown payments is November, as people gear up for the expense of Christmas – there’s a similar boost in June as they prepare for the summer holidays.
It’s also the time when we’re most likely to use a pension calculator – which is one way to pass the time as the nights draw in.
The month where it’s traditional to have very little cash to splash, is the least popular month to make a lump sum contribution to a pension, while December is the third most popular month for it.
By contrast, January is the most popular month for getting an annuity quote, as we are filled with New Year zeal for planning the future. This is also the month we see more people log into their pension accounts, and more look for information on the Hargreaves Lansdown website
Regardless of the time of year, landmark days in the stockmarkets tend to see spikes in pension activity. The second busiest day of 2017 was May 16, when the FTSE 100 reached over 7,500 for the first time.
Regardless of the time of year, we are most likely to check the value of our pensions on a Tuesday, narrowly pushing Wednesday into second place. Overall though pension savers are weekday watchers, as 90% of log-ins happen during the week. The busiest times for logging in are 8am – 10am on a weekday.
Those pension savers who save the pleasure of checking their pension accounts for the weekend, at least allow themselves a lie-in - with the busiest times for checking accounts occurring between 10am and midday.
About the author
Nathan Long is a senior pension analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.
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