UK retirees at risk of running pension pots dry

21 April 2021

• New report reveals two thirds (66%) of adults retiring this year risk running out of money 
• Almost two in five (37%) 2021 retirees have accelerated retirement due to Covid-19
• Launched today, the Class of 2021 report by Standard Life Aberdeen looks at how ready this year’s retirees are for what is to come

Two thirds (66%) of 2021 retirees risk not having the pension savings to sustain their planned retirement income, according to a new report launched today from Standard Life Aberdeen.

In its inaugural Class of report, surveying UK adults planning to retire this year, Standard Life Aberdeen revealed how ready the Class of 2021 is to retire, identifying what worries and excites them most, and how recent events have impacted their plans for retirement.

The research found that a 2021 retiree plans to spend, on average, £21,000 a year in retirement – almost £10,000 less than the average UK household income (£29,900)*.

However, looking at their pension pots, and factoring in the money they’ll receive from their State Pension, analysis shows that two thirds (66%) are at risk of running out of money. 

The average value of a Class of 2021 pension pot is £366,000 – but a third (33%) admitted to having less than £100,000 saved. 

John Tait, Retirement Advice Specialist at Standard Life Aberdeen, said:

“Vast numbers of those retiring this year risk running out of money in their retirement. Retirement is a marathon, not a sprint, and many could be going into it without sufficient preparation or planning. 

“Pension pots are without a doubt the most popular option for funding retirement, but it’s so important that retirees consider any other savings or assets they can use when deciding whether they can afford to retire or not.”

Standard Life Aberdeen’s research also found that more than a third (37%) of those planning to retire this year are worried about not having enough money to last throughout retirement. 

Just two in five (39%) feel very confident that they’re financially ready to finish working this year, with a third (34%) of women feeling very confident versus two in five (43%) men. 

Almost half (48%) are planning to reduce their usual spending to support themselves in retirement, while a quarter (27%) will work part-time to help financially. One in five (21%) are planning to sell their home or downsize to fund retirement. 

John continued:
“Understanding what money you have for your retirement and how to spend it wisely can be hard, but that’s where preparation and speaking to an expert can help. Circumstances or priorities may change, particularly if you’re retiring amidst a global pandemic, but it will be much easier to adapt a plan you already have, than if you were to have to start from scratch.”

Despite many admitting to worries about whether they’re financially ready to retire this year, Standard Life Aberdeen’s research found that almost two in five (37%) of the Class of 2021 have accelerated their planned retirement date in the past 12 months due to Covid-19.

Lockdown changing their retirement plans, health worries due to the pandemic and job uncertainty were the three main reasons for speeding up their retirement. 

However, there are clearly some apprehensions about retiring during a pandemic amongst this year’s retirees. More than half (51%) are worried about not being able to do things they planned, while two in five (43%) are concerned they won’t be able to see friends and family.

When it comes to their finances, three in ten (29%) have concerns about their pension falling in volatile markets, and almost one in five (17%) have seen their income fall over the past year. 

Ben Hampton, Head of Retirement Advice at Standard Life Aberdeen:
“Deciding how and when to retire is one of the biggest life decisions and transitions we make. Longer life expectancy, volatile investment markets and ever-changing regulation can make planning and preparing for retirement feel confusing, not to mention the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on people’s immediate and longer-term financial priorities and plans.

“Whatever the plan, when it comes to making the decision to retire, most people find it understandably daunting. Even more so if you don’t feel prepared. We hope the findings from our research help to inspire tomorrow’s generation of retirees, igniting a spark in them to create a plan they can have confidence in for their retirement.”

Standard Life Aberdeen’s Class of report also interviewed 2020 retirees to see how they’re getting on. Despite Covid-19, seven in ten (70%) said they were happy with their decision to retire last year. 

Not having to go to work is what the Class of 2020 are enjoying most about retirement, followed by spare time and spending more time with family.

More than a third (34%) have enjoyed taking up new hobbies – with the main ones being gardening, fishing, and baking.


* ONS average household income, UK: financial year 2020 

Download the Class of report here.

Media enquiries 

For further information, contact:
Anna Penson
T: +44 (0)203 773 9545
M: +44 (0)774 214 2411

Consumer research of 2,000 UK adults who were either due to retire in the next 12 months, or had retired in the past 12 months. 
Research was carried out by Censuswide in February 2021.

About Retirement Advice from Standard Life Aberdeen 
Retirement Advice from Standard Life Aberdeen is a new advice service combining the benefits of traditional face to face advice with the convenience of digital. 

With experienced advisers on the phone, supported by innovative technology behind the scenes, it’s designed to be a lower cost way to get advice on your retirement. 

Retirement Advice from Standard Life Aberdeen can help customers who are ready or preparing to retire, and offers a free retirement income estimate in a personalised Retirement Report via their website.

By answering a few simple questions, in less than 5 minutes customers can get an idea of how much income they could expect from all their assets, not just pensions. Using the Retirement Living Standards, an independent benchmark, customers can see how their income compares. Plus, if they have a partner, they can see all their assets and incomes together.

Advice can involve investing, the value of investments can go down as well as up, and could be worth less than originally invested. 

For more information about Retirement Advice from Standard Life Aberdeen click here.