Free software solves the dilemma of when – or if – to retire

By Tony Watts OBE, Chair of South West Forum on Ageing and Director of RetireEasy

Millions of people in their 50s and 60s are currently facing the dilemma of when they will be able to retire, and be able to enjoy a comfortable retirement.

Millions more  already in retirement are concerned about whether their savings will last out – and be sufficient to fund their later life care – or whether they need to reduce their outgoings, downsize or even return to part time work.

So I’d like to recommend that everyone working in this zone has a closer look at a free software programme, which is available from Age Action Alliance member, and which can accurately provide those answers in a matter of minutes. I was so impressed by how it works – and the fact that it is free! – that I have now (as the old ad goes) got involved with the programme developers in order to promote its wider use.

None other than Investors Chronicle has described it as the “holy grail solution” to retirement planning, and I believe that could also play a major part in the Government’s “Fuller Working Lives” agenda by giving an accurate assessment of an individual or couple’s financial future if they decide to retire or stay in full or part time work.

It will also help those worrying about how
to invest their “pension pot” now that the rules have been relaxed. From April 2015, pension investors will be able to withdraw their money in retirement as they wish, with no restrictions and no obligation to buy an annuity.

Users simply key in their assets and income, together with outgoings and any future major life events. This generates charts showing whether the user’s lifestyle and income expectations can be maintained – or whether adjustments will be necessary, and when.

It can be constantly modified with new information – allowing the user to explore a range of “what if” scenarios and see what would happen (for instance) if they downsized, took out equity release, inherited money or helped their grandchildren with University fees. Changes in tax rules are automatically allowed for, and the user can also test the results against future shifts in interest rates and inflation.

What I particularly like about this programme is that it empowers people to make the informed choices needed, hopefully with expert help from their financial advisor, to enjoy a secure retirement. And the fact that is now available as a free download means it fits in perfectly with my voluntary roles.

I am particularly keen to see the software being used by those in their 50s and 60s who are starting to plan their retirement as part of the Government’s “fuller working lives” agenda. We are moving into a time when flexible working and phased retirement have to be the norms, not the exceptions, and this tool can play a big part in that: employers, in particular, could play a role in promoting to their staff.

There is a huge advantage too for pension providers and financial advisors to encourage its use as it will encourage existing pensioners to take a far more proactive approach to their finances in retirement.

So do give it a go – there are no catches, and the “call to action” after using it is to go and get independent financial advice if you think you need to make changes to your investments or lifestyle. I would also love to hear back from anyone who does try it – because every user experience can help us make it even better.


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