Retirement Account

Retirement Account is designed to support you throughout saving for your retirement, taking your benefits, or both.

A pension with the option of phasing in your retirement


While receiving favourable tax treatment

Have control

Over the way you access your benefits


The move from work to retirement

Key features

Product flexibility – Retirement Account has two distinct parts.

  • ‘Retirement Planning’ which allows you to save for your retirement.
  • ‘Retirement Income’ which allows you to keep your savings invested, with the potential to grow, even if you decide to take some of the value as a tax-free cash lump sum and/or income.

You have the flexibility to save and take your benefits when and how you choose.

  • Investment choice – Choose from a range of investments which give you different options depending on your retirement goals, how you plan to take your benefits and how much risk you want to take with your investments.
  • 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.
  • Up-to-date information – You’ll be able to view all transactions to and from your Retirement Account online, allowing you to keep track of how your investments are performing.

Key benefits

Retirement Planning

  • Retirement Account has the flexibility of being a Personal Pension with a self-invested option if required.
  • It allows you to consolidate your retirement savings in one account, offering you choice and control.
  • Wide choice of investment options.
  • You normally get tax relief on the payments you make.
  • You could also take some or all of the value of the Retirement Planning part as a cash lump sum (Partial or Full Pension Encashment). For each pension encashment, 25% of the value will be tax free and the remainder of the encashment will be taxable. You can normally do this from age 55 or over.
  • You can keep funds invested in Retirement Planning until age 75.

Retirement Income

Moving funds into Retirement Income allows you to take a flexible, taxable income, while keeping the remainder of your account invested. You can normally do this from age 55 or over.

  • You can take up to 25% of the value of 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 one-off income payments when you need them.
  • You can keep funds invested in Retirement Income until age 99.
  • You can view our Retirement Account guide here for more detailed product information.


  • 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.

Frequently asked questions

Retirement Account has been designed with a transparent charging structure. We have broken the overall charges down into their component parts, so you should always have a clear picture of the costs.

Service charge*

We take this charge for setting up and managing your Retirement Account. It is calculated based on the value held in both the Retirement Planning and Retirement Income parts.

As the service charge table shows, 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 tables above show the standard rates that apply for new Retirement Account applications. These rates may change in the future.

Investment charges

The investment charges depend on the type of investments you choose. If you have an adviser and you’re invested in Scottish Widows Pension Funds, see the Retirement Account Scottish Widows Pension Fund Charges guide for details. For other investments, speak to your financial adviser.

If you apply for a Retirement Account from a Scottish Widows adviser you will not have access to the full range of investment options available – we will tell you which options are available when you apply and provide you with the relevant investment guide including charges.

Adviser charges

You only have to pay this charge if you buy a Retirement Account from an adviser. This is the cost of any advice and/or services that your financial adviser provides in relation to your Retirement Account and you will have agreed any amounts to be paid to them. Your adviser will normally offer you two payment options:

1.Pay your adviser directly. Or 2. Have the costs deducted from your Retirement Account.

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 payments into retirement income

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

The minimum payment is £10,000 (before any tax-free lump sum is taken), provided there is at least £30,000 in the Retirement Planning element.

Once your Retirement Account has been set up

The minimum additional payment 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.

To and through retirement, we want to make sure that you have the investment choice that you need. That’s why Retirement Account provides a wide range of asset classes to invest in. We aim to cater for straightforward investment requirements, as well as those that are more complex, giving you both freedom and flexibility, and providing a number of investment solutions to help support your income requirements throughout your retirement.

When considering your options here, it’s important to know that a Scottish Widows adviser can only discuss Scottish Widows funds and Strategies with you – others, for example fund supermarkets, you can only discuss and access via an independent financial adviser (IFA).

Below you’ll find more information about the different investment solutions and who you can talk to about them.

Scottish Widows Funds and Strategies

  • Over 100 funds covering a wide range of asset classes, geographical locations, sectors and management styles.
  • No minimum investment required.
  • Currently no charge for switching between our Pension Funds.
  • You can also choose from a range of Governed Investment Strategies, which gradually move your Retirement Account into lower-risk investments as you approach your selected retirement date. These strategies will automatically adjust so that your Retirement Account is invested in one of three ways, depending on whether you want to purchase an annuity, keep your funds invested and take an income, or take a cash lump sum.
  • Our Premier Governed Investment Strategies are slightly more expensive, but aim to provide better potential growth.
  • Governed Investment Strategies and Premier Governed Investment Strategies are available for Retirement Planning only.

For more information, you can:

  1. 1. Read our guides:
  2. 2. Speak to either a Scottish Widows adviser or an IFA.

A fund supermarket:

  • Offers a range of funds from a variety of fund management groups, with different fund services, sizes and costs.
  • Gives you access to approximately 2,600 funds – your IFA can help you select those most suitable for you.
  • Has the potential to benefit from lower charges on some funds than if you were to buy them direct.

We recommend that you speak to your IFA for more information on the fund supermarket.

Please see our Fund Supermarket Investor’s Guide

There are a number of other investment options available but, for these, only an IFA can discuss your options with you and/or make a recommendation. We have a number of guides available to help you have that conversation and you can find these below.

Discretionary fund management

You and your IFA may decide that your investment needs are such that you require a more bespoke service to manage your Retirement Account investments.

We offer a range of Discretionary Fund Managers (DFMs) for you to choose from:

  • Brewin Dolphin Securities
  • Brooks Macdonald
  • Cazenove Capital Management
  • Charles Stanley
  • Tilney Investment Management
  • Investec Wealth & Investment
  • Quilter Cheviot
  • Rathbone Investment Management

DFMs manage your investments, making investment decisions that bear in mind your circumstances, stated aims, attitude to risk, and other requirements. They can provide investment guidance, detailed research and risk profiling services.

Working with your IFA, the DFM will create and manage a bespoke investment portfolio on your behalf.

Share dealing

  • Separate share dealing accounts can be set up for each part of your account.
  • Invest directly in stocks and shares listed on an HMRC recognised stock exchange, with our share dealing partner, Stocktrade.

If you have an independent financial adviser (IFA) and would like more details, see the Retirement Account Share Dealing Guide

Fixed-term cash deposit (subject to availability)

  • Aims to protect the value of your investment.
  • Can allow you to benefit from competitive terms negotiated with deposit-takers.
  • Offers a fixed level of interest, payable at the end of the term.

If you have an IFA and would like more details, see the Retirement Account Fixed Term Cash Deposit Guide

Commercial property

  • Invest in your existing business premises or other property, subject to our approval.
  • Note that you will be unable to release the equity in the property until you retire.

If you have an IFA and would like more details, see the Retirement Account Commercial Property Administration Guide

It’s important to keep up-to-date with how your pension is performing and keep track of any benefits you’re taking.

To help you do this, you can view your Retirement Account online where you’ll have access to the following information:

  • all transactions going through your Retirement Account
  • real-time valuations
  • your Retirement Account investment history.

We’ll also send you a full statement each year.

You can normally access benefits from your Retirement Account from age 55 or over in the following ways. You don’t have to choose just one option, you can combine them to suit your own needs.

Retirement Account allows you to pass the value of your account on to your dependants or other beneficiaries, whether you are in Retirement Planning, Retirement Income, or both.

The value of your Retirement Account can be used to provide them with a lump sum or an income from an annuity or using income drawdown through Retirement Income.

If you die before you are 75, these benefits are normally tax free. If you die on or after age 75, they are taxed at the recipient’s marginal rate of income tax.

No inheritance tax will normally be payable on the value of your account because we will choose the beneficiary, taking into account any nomination you make.

From an independent financial adviser

An adviser will be able to help you decide whether a Retirement Account is suitable for you, 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.

If you haven't got a financial adviser:


From a Scottish Widows adviser

A Scottish Widows adviser will help you in the same way that an independent financial adviser will but we can only advise you on investment funds and strategies provided by Scottish Widows.

You can speak to a Scottish Widows adviser by calling 0345 845 1004.

Alternatively, request a call back and we’ll call you at a time that’s best for you.

If you don’t think you need financial advice, you can set up a Retirement Account at the same time as consolidating any other pensions to Scottish Widows.

You can get more information on consolidating your pensions here.

Pension basics

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

Find out more

Pension freedom

You now have more choices when it comes to taking your pensions and retirement income.

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