New research by YouGov on behalf of Smart suggests that one in eight adults (13%) over the age of 55 who expect to retire in the future are planning on delaying their retirement due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The research also suggests that only a fifth (20%) of UK adults see retirement as a one off event, and over a third (35%) of UK adults who expect to retire or are already retired would prefer to manage all their retirement finances themselves.

The news comes as Smart, the fast growing global retirement technology platform provider, launches Smart Retire, an innovative product that gives flexibility to plan and manage retirement savings in a personalised way.

Will Wynne, Global MD of Smart said:

“While the headline impact of Covid is shocking news for a million people approaching retirement in the UK.  This survey demonstrates that the nature of retirement is changing and fast. We know people want to be in control of their finances, but worryingly 47% of adults aged 55+ who expect to retire or are already retired, want to go it  alone.

“Retirement is complex and people need help if they are to make the most of their savings. That’s why we’ve invested hundreds of hours testing and refining our new Smart Retire solution which gives people flexibility, puts people in control, but also helps them balance the important decisions to ensure they are using their money in the right way.”

The survey

The YouGov survey of 2114 UK adults, conducted on behalf of Smart in November 2020, painted a complicated picture for people approaching retirement.

Half (51%) of people aged 55+ think of retirement as an event with several stages, a statistic which is backed up with people having very different expectations for when they will retire. Looking at the UK adults aged 55+ who expect to retire in the future:

  • 25% saying they will or did first access their retirement savings 50-59.
  • 33% say they will or did first access their retirement savings between 60-64
  • 33% say they will or did first access their retirement savings between 65-69
  • 5% say they will or did first access their retirement savings between 70-74
  • 2% say they will or did first access their retirement savings between 75-79

Furthermore, 7% of UK adults aged 55+ who expect to retire or are retired,  don’t know their preference regarding managing finances during retirement and 20% don’t understand their options around finance at retirement. This marries with the latest DWP research[1] suggesting there was little evidence of people giving detailed consideration of the length of their retirement or their needs beyond the independent phase of later life.

Despite all of this Smart research suggests people aged 55+ want control and flexibility

  • 47% of UK adults aged 55+ who expect to retire or are retired would prefer to manage all of their retirement finances themselves
  • But 37% want some support; 7% want someone else to manage their retirement finances entirely, while 30% want some assistance but remain involved.
  • When asked what is important when choosing a pension provider, 27% of all UK adults aged 55+ chose being able to change their income if their financial needs change, and 29% place importance on having the ability to withdraw ah-hoc lump sums

Worryingly, 52% of all UK adults are also concerned about only being able to afford a limited lifestyle in retirement, while 13% of those aged 55+who expect to retire in the future, have decided to delay their retirement due to the Covid pandemic.

Smart Retire

Smart Retire guides members through the complexities in the run up to retirement, filling the ‘advice gap’ but through guidance rather than sometimes expensive advice. Members can use this solution in conjunction with advice from a professional.

Designed by Smart’s in-house research and UX team, Smart Retire has been built to be as flexible as possible, allowing users to scenario plan and change their pension strategy as required.

Built with four pots, Smart Retire accommodates life’s unpredictability and ensures users avoid both under-spending and running out of funds in their retirement.

Of the four pots, two are income pots:

  • Flexible income pot – monthly income in the early years of retirement
  • Later life pot – leave money invested to buy a guaranteed income from an annuity provider later on in retirement
  • And two savings pots:
  • Rainy day pot – dip in to this pot for emergencies
  • Inheritance pot – put money aside to leave to a loved one

Smart Retire will initially be available to members of the Smart Pension Master Trust with plans to roll out globally in 2021.

Recognising that consumers have long enjoyed technology advancements in banking, payments and investments, Smart’s global mission is to transform pensions savings and financial well-being across all generations around the world through technology, and bring the pensions sector in line.

Notes to editor:


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 2114 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 19th – 20th November 2020.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).

About Smart:

Smart is a global savings and investments technology platform provider, co-founded in 2014 by Andrew Evans, Group CEO, and Will Wynne, Group MD. Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM), J.P. Morgan, Link Group, Natixis Investment Managers and Barclays are all investors in Smart.

The Smart platform powers the award-winning master trust, Smart Pension Master Trust. Launched in 2015, the Smart Pension Master Trust has grown from £100 million in AUM to £1.3 billion in two years. It is overseen by independent professional trustees and regulated by The Pensions Regulator. Smart Pension is a signatory of the UN Principles of Responsible Investing (PRI).

In 2020 Smart Pension was named Master Trust Offering of the Year at the Pension Age Awards. Other awards include DC Master Trust of the Year, DC Innovation of the Year and Retirement Innovation of the Year in the 2019 UK Pensions Awards. Smart Pension was also named European Pension Fund of the Year 2019 in the European Pension Awards.

Find out more about Smart > https://www.smart.co/