Retirement Account

Retirement Account is a personal pension plan that supports you to and through retirement.

Retirement Account allows you to


While receiving favourable tax treatment

Have control

Over the way you access your benefits


The move from work to retirement

How can I apply for a retirement account?

If you're consolidating pensions, you can apply for a Retirement Account online.​

Otherwise speak to your financial adviser. We can help you find an adviser if you don’t already have one. Advisers will normally charge for advice.​


  • One Plan Flexibility - supports you throughout saving for your retirement and taking your pension savings. Giving you the flexibility to do this when and how you choose.
  • Investment choice – we've used our investment expertise to develop a range of options that you can choose depending on your retirement goals, how you plan to take your savings and how much risk you want to take.
  • Clear charges – with a simple and clear charging structure that separates the different types of charges, you can see exactly what you’re paying for.
  • Award winning service – with a Defaqto 5 star product rating and Gold service award for Pensions. It’s easy to manage your account online or over the phone if you need support.
  • Experience and expertise - we've been helping people plan their financial futures for over 200 years. When you approach retirement we'll be in touch to provide guidance on your options.

You can view our Retirement Account guide here for more detailed product information.

Key benefits

Retirement Account has two parts

  • ‘Retirement Planning’ – Holds your pension savings pre-retirement.
  • ‘Retirement Income’ – Holds your pension savings post-retirement and allows you to take income drawdown.

Retirement Planning

  • You can consolidate your pension savings in one account, offering you choice and control.
  • Investment options that include lifestyling strategies based on your retirement goals and attitude to risk.
  • You normally get tax relief on the payments you make.
  • You can take some or all of the value of the Retirement Planning part as a cash lump sum (pension encashment). Up to 25% of the value will be tax-free and the remainder will be taxable. You usually have to be age 55 or over to do this.
  • You can select a retirement age of up to 75 when you take out your Account, but you can stay in it until age 99 if you wish.

Retirement Income

Moving your pension savings into Retirement Income allows you to take a flexible, taxable income, while giving the remainder of your Account the opportunity to grow.

  • You can take up to 25% of the amount you move into the Retirement Income part as a tax-free lump sum. You don’t have to take an income.
  • Income can be paid on a monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or yearly basis.
  • You can change the frequency and amount of income at any time.
  • You can also take ad-hoc income payments when you need them.
  • Investment Pathway options designed to meet you investment needs in retirement.
  • You can stay in Retirement Income until age 99.

Frequently asked questions

We have broken the overall charges down into their component parts, so you should always have a clear picture of the costs.

If you are transferring to Retirement Account, we won't charge you for doing this.

Service Charge

We take this charge for setting up and managing your Retirement Account.

If the total value of your Retirement Account increases, the rate of Service Charge can decrease. If the total value of your Retirement Account decreases, the rate of Service Charge can increase.

Total value of Retirement Account Service charge (per year)
£0 £30k 0.90%
£30k £50k 0.40%
£50k £250k 0.30%
£250k £500k 0.25%
£500k £1m 0.20%
£1m+   0.10%

The Service Charge will be split proportionally between the Retirement Planning and Retirement Income parts of your account. It will be deducted monthly and the first Service Charge will be deducted one month after the Retirement Account start date.

The table above shows the standard rates that apply for new Retirement Account applications. These rates may change in the future.

Investment charges

Investment charges depend on the type of investments you choose. See Retirement Planning Investment Options for Direct Customers (25966) for more details.

For the Governed Investment Strategies, the charge is currently 0.1%* each year


If you have £50,000 invested in a Governed Investment Strategy, every year we would charge you:

  • Service charge 0.3%
  • Add
  • Investment charge 0.1%
  • Equals
  • Total

* Note that in certain circumstances, the Investment Charge will be 0.2% on part of your pension savings – see the Retirement Planning Investment Options for Direct Customers (25966) for more details.

Adviser charges

These charges will only apply if you have instructed us to pay a financial adviser for any advice and services they’ve given you on your Retirement Account. We’ll deduct any agreed amounts from the value of your plan and pay them to your adviser.

Minimum payments into Retirement Planning

When you’re setting up a new Retirement Account

The minimum payments into a new Retirement Account, after any tax relief has been added, are:

Payment type Minimum payment (gross)
Transfer £10,000
Single £10,000
Yearly £2,400
Monthly £200

Please note – if there is more than one person paying into your Retirement Account, the different payers can reach the minimum payment amount between them. Different payment types can also be combined to achieve the minimum amount.

Once your Retirement Account has been set up

The minimum additional payments into an existing Retirement Account, after any tax relief has been added, are:

Payment type Minimum payment (gross)
Transfer £2,000
Single £2,000
Yearly £600
Monthly £50

Minimum movements into Retirement Income

When you’re setting up a new Retirement Account or moving pension savings into Retirement Income for the first time

The minimum movement is £10,000 (before any tax-free lump sum is taken), provided there is at least £30,000 in the Retirement Planning part before any amounts are moved into Retirement Income.

Once your Retirement Account has been set up

The minimum additional movement is £2,000 (before any tax-free lump sum is taken). Any remaining balance in the Retirement Planning part, if lower, can also be moved to Retirement Income, even if this is less than £2,000.

To and through retirement, we want to make sure you have the investment choice that you need.

Our fund managers will invest your funds in assets with the aim of achieving a positive return over time to grow your pension pot using our extensive multi asset fund experience, expert asset allocation and robust governance.

Retirement Planning Investment Options

When you open a Retirement Account online, we take the hassle out of choosing individual funds and have designed investment choices to suit you.

You just need to think about two things:

  • how you feel about risks associated with investing - are you a cautious, balanced or adventurous investor?
  • what you plan to do with your pension in retirement

This will allow us to place you in the lifestyle strategy that suits you. Our lifestyle strategies are called Governed Investment Strategies.

The lifestyle strategies do the hard work for you. Automatically adjusting how your pension is invested over time, gradually moving into lower risk funds as you get closer to your selected retirement age.

And the investment charge is only 0.1% a year (note If you expect to take a guaranteed income for life in retirement this will gradually rise to 0.2% a year in the five years before you retire).

Get more detail about your retirement planning investment options (pdf).

Retirement Planning Investment Options

When you’re ready to take income from your plan, you’ll need to think about how best to invest your remaining pension to help achieve your retirement goals.

That’s why we we’ve created Investment Pathways to help simplify the decision.​They are designed to help you meet your retirement income needs, based on your broad aims over the next five years in retirement.

The decision about which one to choose is based on the different ways you can take your pension.

Find out more about Investment Options for Retirement Income Guide (pdf).

What other investment options are there?

There are a number of other investment options available if you take out Retirement Account through an adviser.

If you would like to look at other options for investing, you should seek independent financial advice. If you don't have a financial adviser, we can help you find one here. Please be aware an adviser will charge you for this service.

You can keep track of your Retirement Account online or over the phone. We’ll also send you statements in the post.

We’ll let you know how to register online. Once you’ve set up your Retirement Account. You’ll be able to:

  • see the value of your pension
  • view all transactions and investments
  • request annual statements
  • change your details.
  • You can also manage your account over the phone.

What we will send you

Every year, we’ll send you a statement in the post. This shows all contributions for the year, tax relief and the value of your pension pot.

You can normally access your pension savings from age 55 or over. Where you can choose one or more of the following options:

  • A guaranteed income for life (an annuity)
  • Flexi-access drawdown
  • Take it as cash
  • Leave it for now (defer your pension).

Find out more about your pension options.

Leave you pension to a loved one

Retirement Account allows you to pass on the value of your pension to a loved one when you die, as a lump sum or an income.

If you die before you are 75, these benefits are normally tax-free. If you die on or after age 75, your benefits are taxable.

It's important to keep us up to date with who you want to leave your pension to in the event of your death, otherwise known as a beneficiary.

When you set up a Retirement Account we'll send you an expression of wish form so you can nominate a beneficiary, and if you want to make changes we can send you a new one.

Scottish Widows will take account of your wishes but we are not bound by them. As we use our discretion to decide who is to receive the benefits, they do not normally form part of your estate, where they may by subject to Inheritance Tax.

Take a look at how Retirement Account supports you and your loved ones:

Download the guide (pdf)

If you die in an accident

If your Retirement Account has been up and running for less than five years and you die in an accident, your beneficiaries will normally receive whichever is greater:

  • 120% of your total payments in (this includes employer contributions and Government top ups)
  • the value of your plan.

If you’ve held a Retirement Account for more than five years, your beneficiaries will get the value of your plan.


If you have other pension plans you want to consolidate, you can do this by setting up a Retirement Account online. Get more information on consolidating your pensions.

From a financial adviser

An adviser will be able to help you decide whether a Retirement Account is suitable for you. They can help to understand your attitude to risk, and advise you on the mix of investments that may best suit your retirement goals.

This will take into account factors such as your age, health and your wishes regarding provision for any dependants you may have. You can then make clear decisions based on clear choices.

We can help you find a financial adviser if you don’t already have one. Advisers will normally charge for advice.

  • Pensions are a long-term investment. The retirement benefits you receive from your pension plan will depend on a number of factors including the value of your plan when you decide to take your benefits which isn’t guaranteed and can go down as well as up. The value of your plan could fall below the amount(s) paid in.
  • The value of the tax benefits of your Retirement Account depend on your individual circumstances. Tax rules and circumstances may change in the future.
  • High levels of pension encashments or income may not be sustainable and in some cases could reduce the value of your Retirement Account to zero. You should consider the impact this might have on your income in retirement.

Pension basics

Whatever stage of the retirement journey you’re at, get the basics before you go any further.

Find out more


Find out more about our Guaranteed Income options.

Find out more

Combine your pensions

Got more than one pension? Then you could think about putting them all in one place. Combining your pensions with Scottish Widows is simple and we won’t charge you for this service.

Pension transfers