Securing your future with early pension planning

Marie Kirwan, Senior Financial Planner at Zurich explains how early planning can lead to a more comfortable retirement. This article was first published on

Retirement planning can sometimes feel like that gym membership you promised to start using ‘next week’ – always on the horizon but never quite today's priority, especially for those in their 20s and 30s.

But it’s time to think of early pension planning as your ticket to the future. It’s not just about being financially savvy; it’s about creating the retirement life you’ve always dreamt of. It’s a promise of security, comfort, and even a bit of adventure in your golden years.

So why do many in their 30s not have a private pension yet?

According to a survey by iReach Insights on behalf of Zurich, which examined the attitudes of adults towards paying into a pension, not having any spare money (56pc) is still the top reason for not having a pension*.

51pc say their biggest challenge is other financial priorities, while 36pc of respondents don’t know enough about pensions.

Marie Kirwan, Senior Financial Planner at Zurich, says, "There are some barriers around, such as the lack of education about pensions.”

She stresses the need for including pension education into the curriculum, saying, "It is an essential part of life, because everybody will need a pension.

"I’ve heard some people say, 'I'm not going to start a pension because I might go travelling, or I might change jobs’. But pensions are flexible, so don't let anything stop you from setting up one. Starting a pension early will make a significant difference in your retirement.”

The importance of early planning

Starting a pension plan in your 30s can seem premature to some. After all, you will likely be working for at least another 30 years. But it's actually a strategic move.

From January 2023, the State Pension in Ireland for a person aged 66 or over is €277.30 per week. This works out to approximately €14,400 a year. But with a private pension alongside this, you could get a much more comfortable retirement.

Marie underscores the huge benefits of starting a pension early. She says, “You get tax relief on your contributions”, explaining that this relief could be at either 20pc or 40pc, depending on your tax bracket.

For example, if you’re on the standard 20pc rate of income tax, every €100 you contribute to your pension would only cost you €80 after tax relief. The higher the rate of income tax, the more you get back.

Plus, pensions offer tax-free growth, unlike other savings accounts where growth is taxed. Pensions are also invested, allowing for compounding interest growth over time, and the potential for the value to increase as time progresses.

"The younger you are, the higher the return at retirement, as it's compounding," says Marie. “Starting early also means you don’t have to contribute as much later in life, compared to those who start later and have to play catch up.

“The sooner you start, the more you put into your pension over time. And the more it compounds, the more growth you get throughout life."

Starting your pension

For those in their 20s and 30s just beginning to consider a pension, Marie offers her advice, “The only barrier or difficulty most have with a pension is just getting it set up in the first place.”

There's a misconception that pension contributions require large sums of money. In reality, even small, regular contributions can make a significant impact over time. “All you need to do is take around €100 from your budget per month and set one up.

“Once set up, it becomes a part of your financial planning, and the sooner you start, the easier it is to achieve your retirement income goals.

But before starting, Marie advises talking things through with either a Zurich financial planner or an independent advisor.

"You need to talk to the right advisor, broker, or financial planner, and get the right advice. They can point you in the right direction to make sure that you're invested correctly over time."

Matching your lifestyle

When discussing Zurich's offerings, which is one of the biggest pension providers in Ireland, Marie highlights the importance of considering charges and the performance of funds.

"Zurich has pensions to match every lifestyle and offers very competitive charging structures,” says Marie. “Zurich's funds have been outperforming over the long-term and Zurich’s products are highly regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.”

She emphasises the flexibility and suitability of Zurich’s pension schemes for all types of employment situations. Whether you are self-employed, newly employed, or someone who has already worked for many years.

And as the pension landscape changes in the next few years, with auto-enrolment (a scheme where employees are automatically enrolled in a new pension plan) being introduced, Marie says pension planning will become a hot topic for all.

“If you get the right advice and the right pension plan provider, you can start on the path to peace of mind and financial security.”

Remember, the best time to start planning for retirement is today. Don't let misconceptions and barriers hold you back from securing your future.

Taking a small action today and speaking to Zurich or a financial broker could have a great impact on your future. With a wide range of options, control and flexibility, you can choose a pension plan that’s right for you. If you’re wondering where to start, you can find a local financial advisor near you with the Zurich Advisor Finder.

*Source: iReach pension survey, August 2023

The information contained herein is based on Zurich Life’s understanding of current Revenue practice as of 1st February 2024 and may change in the future.

This publication has been prepared for general guidance on matters of interest only and does not constitute professional advice. You should not act upon the information contained in this publication without obtaining specific professional advice.

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