Retirement Account

The Retirement Account from our partners at Scottish Widows could make investing in your future a whole lot easier.

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Award-winning* personal pension

  • Plan your future - You control when and how much you pay into your pension. Easily view and track your savings and make regular or one-off payments – whichever option is best for you.
  • A simple way to save - We keep things simple with our competitively charged ready-made investment solutions to suit your needs. We’ll manage how your money is invested so you don’t have to.
  • Flexible plan - Choose how you want to take your pension when the time comes – and keep up with life’s changes along the way. Simply transfer in more pensions as you change jobs in the future to stay on top of your retirement savings.

*Source: Defaqto Annual Product Ratings – April 2023

How does the Retirement Account work?

We'll invest for you

We’ll manage your money for you and take the hassle out of making investment choices with our Governed Investment Strategies (GIS). These strategies are made up of a range of funds known as Pension Portfolios.

Make your choices

We ask you to choose your approach to risk and how and when you want to take your benefits when you retire. We‘ll use this to place you into the appropriate GIS. We then do all the hard work for you. Don’t worry, if you're not sure we can help.

Start a transfer

You’ll need to transfer old pensions with a total value of £10,000 or more. Once open, you can also add money to your pension to help get the retirement lifestyle you want.

Your 2 Retirement Account choices

1. Your approach to risk

The first thing you need to think about is how you feel about the risks associated with investing into a pension. For most people it will be a balancing act. The Scottish Widows' Governed Investment Strategies are designed to suit different needs.

We do the hard work for you. Governed Investment Strategies gradually reduce the risk level of your investments starting 15 years from retirement based on your chosen appetite to risk and how you’ve told us you plan to take your pension when you retire. 

Although this may lessen the potential for growth, it helps reduce the impact of potential market drops on the value of your pension as you get closer to retirement. Also, it helps reduce the likelihood of any sudden drops in its value. When you are 5 years away from retirement, we will start to move your investment into different funds depending on which option for retirement you have chosen.

First things first, you should decide what type of investor you are. There are three levels to choose from: 

  • Cautious – you’re not looking to take much risk with your money.
  • Balanced – you’re willing to balance risk with reward.
  • Adventurous – you’re happy to risk more of your money for potentially higher rewards.

If you’re not sure of your risk appetite or how to take your pension at retirement, you can choose the default option. This is a balanced Governed Investment Strategy (GIS) that targets flexible access at retirement. This could suit a typical customer and reflects what we most commonly see in terms of risk appetite and retirement options. The default strategy is not personalised to you, and it may not meet your needs at retirement, so please consider this when making a decision about your investment options.

If you’re unsure what to choose, you can always seek financial advice. There will be a charge for this service.

When deciding, remember that 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.

  • Appetite to risk

    How your pension pot could perform

    Appetite to risk


    You’re cautious with your investments and don’t feel comfortable taking much risk with your money.

    How your pension pot could perform

    You can expect your pension pot to have some ups and downs in value. While there‘s potential for some growth, there‘s also potential for some losses.

    Appetite to risk


    You’re happy to take some risk with your investments  for potentially more reward.

    How your pension pot could perform

    You can expect your pension pot to go up and down in value. While there‘s potential for growth, there‘s also the potential for losses.

    Appetite to risk


    You’re willing to take higher risks with your investments for potentially higher rewards.

    How your pension pot could perform

    You can expect your pension pot to have a lot of sharp ups and downs in value. While there‘s potential for high growth, there‘s also potential for significant losses.

    Default option

    Our default investment strategy is a balanced Governed Investment Strategy (GIS) that targets flexible access at retirement.

    Things to consider before you decide

    • The value of your pension can change over time. It may go up and down in line with the stock market.
    • Should you consider other investments alongside your pension to help you achieve your retirement goals?
    • What would you do if your pension pot dramatically lost value?
    • Think how comfortable are you with risking your money to potentially increase growth, or alternatively minimise risk as much as you can, but with potentially lower growth?

    If you're unsure we’d recommend that you speak to a financial adviser, who will normally charge you for this advice.

    For more information on how your money is invested with the Retirement Account, read our investment guide.

2. When and how you want to take your pension

So we can manage your investments in a way to best suit you, you'll need to tell us:

  • When you'd like to retire - you can currently access your pension savings when you reach 55 years of age (rising to 57 in 2028), but that doesn't mean this is the right option for you. For example, you could carry on working and keep your whole pot invested until you are ready to retire.
  • How you'd like to take your pension - the Scottish Widows Retirement Account offers flexible options so when the time comes, you can access your pension in the best way to suit you, when the time is right. You'll also normally be able to take up to 25% of your pension pot as a tax-free cash lump sum.

If can’t decide how to access your money in retirement, you can select our default option. You’ll find out more about this when you apply.

We know it might be difficult to decide now but if you change your mind about when or how you'd like to access your pension further down the line, it's easy to change.

The options to consider are:


  • This type of income is called an annuity.

    How does it work?

    You can normally take up to 25% of your pension pot as a tax-free cash lump sum then use the rest to buy a regular guaranteed taxable income for life.

    There are different types of annuity which can affect how much income you would get. 

    For example - You could choose to buy an increasing income, which would mean a lower starting income. You could also choose to provide a continuing income for a loved one after you die, which would reduce the level of income you’d receive


  • Known as flexible access drawdown.

    How does it work?

    You can normally take up to 25% of your pension pot as a tax-free cash lump sum, and leave the rest invested. You can then take taxable withdrawals as and when you like, either as regular income or one-off lump sums. 

    The level of income you take and any investment growth will be key factors as to how long your pension pot will last and you may run out of money in retirement without careful planning.

  • Known as encashment.

    How does it work?

    You either take part or all of the value of your pension as a cash lump sum. The first 25% of each amount you take is tax-free and the rest is taxed at your highest tax rate by adding it to the rest of your income for that year. Please bear in mind this could take you into a higher tax bracket. 

    Be mindful - without very careful planning you could run out of money in your retirement.

    The tax treatment depends on your individual circumstances. Your circumstances and tax rules may change in the future.

Saving for your retirement

There are a few different ways to save into your Scottish Widows Retirement Account.

Regular payments

You can choose to save regularly to help you achieve the retirement you want. 

You'll have the option to make monthly payments of £50 or more, after any added tax relief.

One off top ups

You can top up your pension pot with lump sums if you'd like to give your pension savings a boost. 

Payments will need to be £2,000 or more, after any added tax relief.

Extra transfers

You might gather more pensions over time, for example if you move jobs. You could decide to add additional eligible transfers into your Retirement Account if they have a value of £2,000 or more. Transfers do not receive tax relief.

How much will you need for retirement?


Our pension calculator can help you get an idea of what your retirement income might be and show the impact of making additional contributions.

See my retirement income

Make the most of tax relief

If you pay £80 into your pension pot, the government will usually top up your pension with an extra £20. If you pay tax at a higher or additional rate you could also benefit from extra tax relief, claimed directly from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

What might my pension pot look like?

Here’s an example illustration (PDF, 1.5MB) of what your pension might look like over time. See how different transfer and contribution values could affect the value of your retirement income.

Once you’ve set up your new Retirement Account, you’ll get a personalised illustration of what your future pot might look like as part of your welcome pack.



Simple charges

All pension funds have fees, but by combining your pensions into the Retirement Account you’ll benefit from:

  • No charge for transferring to us.
  • Competitive charge rates - the more you have in your pension pot the lower the rate.
  • Clear and transparent charges so you know exactly what you'll pay.
  • No hidden transactional or drawdown charges.

What charges will I pay?

We want to give you a clear picture of what it will cost once you set up a Retirement Account and invest in one of our Governed Investment Strategies (GIS). We’ll explain our charges and show you how much it will cost. You can use this to compare our charges against those of your old pensions. 

The overall charge is made up of a service and investment charge, shown per year. This will automatically come out of your Retirement Account every month. If at a later date you choose to select your own funds outside of a GIS or move into a retirement income please be aware that charges, and therefore overall cost may differ, and may be higher.

Service charge

The service charge covers:

  • all the admin
  • managing your account.

How does it work? The more you have in your pension pot, the lower the service charge rate will be. It's easy to see what percentage you'll pay, you'll just need to know the total value of your account.



Investment charge

The Investment charge covers:

  • managing your investments
  • all trading costs.

The investment charge if you invest in our Governed Investment Strategies will normally be 0.1% a year. If you choose a guaranteed income for life as your aim, this charge will gradually rise to 0.2% 5 years before retirement.

If you change your investment choice in the future or move into retirement income, the charges could change.

What might this look like for you?

Pot value

Imagine you've got

£50k in your account

Service charge

A charge of 0.3% =


Investment charge

A charge of 0.1% =


Total charge

0.4% total = £200 a year

Just under £17 a month


Why choose us?

Mobile phone logged into the online banking application

Pension on the go

You can use the Mobile Banking app to keep tabs on your pension. 

See at-a-glance how much your combined pension is worth – anytime, anywhere.

Here to help

  • Scottish Widows has over 200 years’ experience – making them experts when it comes to pensions.
  • They've helped thousands of customers transfer from their existing pension providers.

Ready to open a Retirement Account?

Get started by applying to transfer your old pension(s) to us in three simple steps. We’ll guide you through each step from checking if you’re eligible and if it’s right for you, to what to expect after completing your application. Your new account number will automatically be set up once you apply.


Apply to transfer your pension(s)

Frequently asked questions


  • There is always some level of risk with any investment, the Retirement Account offers three levels of investment approach to risk, including a Cautious approach where the potential for both losses and growth is less than other options. Alternatively, the Balanced and Adventurous investments provide increasing potential for pension growth but also losses. We also offer a ‘Default’ option for those who are unsure. This is a balanced Governed Investment Strategy (GIS) that targets flexible access at retirement. You can always change this later.

  • When your account is set up, you’ll get access to the online Scottish Widows portal. Here you can:

    • Check how pension’s performing.
    • Make changes to your account. 
    • Update your details.

    You can also stay up to date with your pension’s value on the Halifax Mobile Banking app – anytime, anywhere.

  • Deciding to take money out of your pension soon after transferring to us is an important decision. We‘ll check with you to see if you‘ve had financial advice, or free guidance from Pension Wise. If you haven‘t, we‘ll double-check to see if you‘d like to do this before we go ahead with your transfer application. We can even book the appointment for you.

  • If you‘re in ill health, you may be able to take your pension benefits before ’the minimum pension age of 55 years old (rising to 57 in 2028). If you‘re in serious ill health, which means you‘ve been diagnosed with less than 12 months to live, you might be able to take your entire pension pot as a cash lump sum. This is tax-free up to the age of 75.

  • You can pass on the value of your pension to a loved one when you die, either as income or a lump sum. If you die before 75, your benefits are usually tax-free. If you die on or after 75 years of age, your benefits will be taxable. Keep us up to date with who you want to leave your pension to when you die. This person is known as a beneficiary.

Read the Investment guide

Here you'll find more detail on how your money is invested with a Retirement Account. Bear in mind, investments can go down as well as up.

Download the Investment guide (PDF, 1.2MB)