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How can advice help you make the most of your pension?
Hayley Millhouse - Managing Director of OpenMoney
November 19, 2020

Do you know what type of pension you have? You’re not alone if not! Our 2020 Advice Gap Report revealed that almost a quarter (23%) of British adults are unaware of the type of pension that their employers are contributing to on their behalf [1]. It’s never too early (or late!) to take stock of your current pensions and plans for retirement.  A good place to start would be to track down the pensions you have in your name, which you can read all about in our blog, here.

Once you have the full picture of where your money is, you may be thinking about consolidating your various pension pots into one, you can read more about the benefits of consolidation here. When you get to this point, it is so important to seek regulated financial advice. There are lots of things you wouldn’t do without the guidance of an expert, for example fixing your car, so why should transferring your pension be any different?

Although it might be a good idea to consolidate your different pots into one place in order to keep track of them, provide better investment options, and potentially save on fees, it can be a complex and often irreversible decision. By taking advice, you can ensure you understand the implications of all the choices available and be confident that you’re making the right decision for you.

Transferring to another provider without advice could leave you at risk of losing potentially lucrative pension benefits with a current provider or switching to a product with higher fees. We take all of these factors into consideration when advising customers on their next steps for their pension. We actually advise a quarter of our customers going through our review process not to transfer! This is usually due to their existing pension offering valuable benefits, or that their current provider is already meeting their needs and providing good value for money.

Our Advice Gap Report also found that one in five people have more than one type of pension, which could include all types of pension such as a personal pension, final salary pension, a defined contribution work pension etc. This is totally normal as people can have a number of jobs through their working life, and may build up several pension pots from different employers. The current upheaval in the jobs market is likely to fuel this trend, so taking control of your retirement planning, to ensure you have enough money later in life, is more important than ever.

At OpenMoney, we offer a free pension transfer review, where we will check whether transferring is the best choice for you. We have been able to save customers over £30,000 in fees over the remaining life of their pensions by switching, and they also benefitted from the option to link all of their other finances via our app to get a complete picture of their financial situation. This shows just how important it is to get advice! There’s no obligation to act on  our advice, it is your pension, your decision and you are in control.

Investing for beginners - Your questions answered
Binyamin Ghaffar - Digital Marketing Apprentice
October 29, 2020

Our recent Advice Gap report uncovered that 38% of people have never invested, with 17% of those stating that they don’t invest as they wouldn’t know where to start.  

The world of investing can seem complex at the beginning, and making the right decisions for you and your money can be difficult. Smartphones and computers have made investing accessible through the click of a button, making it easier than ever to invest. This blog will run through some of the most asked questions for beginner investors and set you off on the right path.

What is investing and how does it work?

The term ‘investing’ simply means to put money away into an asset for a period of time, hoping that the value of that asset increases over time so that you could make a profit once sold in the future. An asset is a term used by investors to describe anything of value or resource which can help make them money in the long or short term. It’s worth mentioning that the value of your assets can fall as well as rise.

To start investing you first first need to purchase a financial product known as an ‘investment’. There are many types of investments such as stocks (buying a portion of a business), property (investing in property to let), bonds (government loans) and exchange trade funds (investment funds that track the performance of an index i.e. FTSE100 etc), the list goes on!  

At OpenMoney, we provide you with a diversified investment portfolio which means that you would be investing in cash, properties, bonds and equities all at once. Our investment portfolio changes depending on the level of risk you are willing to take.

Why should I start investing?

Investing is a great way to help you achieve your financial goals, no matter what they may be. Whether that’s retiring early, saving for a wedding or even if you just wanted some extra cash in your pocket in the future. You should always have a goal in mind when investing to help keep you motivated throughout the process.  

Another great reason to start investing is compound interest. Compound interest helps make your money grow by adding to the interest you have already earned from investing, back into the market. The interest earned ‘compounds’ over time and adds to the value of your investments. It’s a great way to help reach your financial goals quicker.  

Here’s an example of compound interest in action:

If you were to invest £10,000 today for a period of 10 years with an annual return on investment of 5% that compounded every month, the total value after 10 years would be £16,470. Even after one year, you can see the impact of compound interest as the value would be £10,511, even though the returns were 5% (£500). Compound interest can heavily impact the value of your investments, especially when investing over a long time.

An annual return of investment (ROI) is the measure of how much your investment has increased each year. This will be a percentage based on your initial investment minus the final value and then multiplying it by 100. This is also known as ROI.

Does investing require a lot of money?

Absolutely not! Traditionally investing has been seen as something only the rich can do. However, the reality of investing now is that it doesn’t require you to have a lot of money in order to start. At OpenMoney, we allow you to invest from as little as £1 which is perfect for beginner investors who are just looking to dip their toe in the water.

Another helpful thing to remember is that most, if not all, investment companies charge a fee on your investments. The common type of charges you’ll see are:

Platform or management charge - Companies often charge for using their services. These fees are normally deducted from your investments.

Annual charges - This is what you will pay to a company on a yearly basis for having them manage your investments for you.  

Fund charges - Fund providers can deduct payment from either the profit of your investments or by taking it directly from your initial investment in order to use their service.

When weighing up where you’re going to invest, make sure you understand the total charges you’ll face for each company. Fees can make a big impact on your overall portfolio value.

Figuring out how much you’re going to pay can often be confusing, especially if you’re a beginner. At OpenMoney, we understand how confusing it can be, that’s why we’ll tell you your total charges in pounds and pence! Our low total fees of less than 0.5% annually mean that you’ll keep more of your money too. You can read more about our recent fee change here.

Is my money at risk when investing?

Whenever you’re investing, there will always be an element of risk involved. The value of an investment can rise as well as fall so it’s important to understand that you may receive less money than what you had initially invested, this can be due to the market fluctuations and crashes.  

We always recommend investing money that you don’t need to pay your living expenses and essential outgoings and we recommend you have a cash savings buffer in case of any life emergencies. This way, there’s less need for you to access the money you’re investing should you need it. Investing for a longer period allows you to ride the ups and downs assocaited with investing.

Always keep in mind that with any investment that you take, there will always be an element of risk associated with it no matter what you may be investing in.

Where should I invest as a beginner?

As we mentioned earlier, there are several ways to start investing and there are always new and exciting ways people can invest! Getting to grips with all the different types of investing may seem daunting, so one question you must ask yourself is do you want to be an active or passive investor?

Active investing is where you build your own portfolio, for example this may mean buying your own stocks and equities in companies or investing in property. Active investing can take up a lot of time as you’ll always need to be aware of market fluctuations and have your finger on the pulse in order to buy and sell successfully.  

On the other hand, passive investors pay an investment manager to handle their investments for them. This method saves a lot of time and portfolios are pre-built meaning they are often diversified and can be matched to your risk appetite. Passive investing is a great option for those who can’t dedicate the time to researching investment strategies.

Once you have decided on the best strategy for you, there are a few more things you’ll need to consider such as how much you want to invest, how often you will invest and how much risk you want to take. These should all be determined by your financial goals.

How long should I invest for?

With investing, there isn’t a set time in which you should hold your investments for, however, we do recommend keeping them for at least 5 years to smooth out the ups and downs. The duration of your investment should be dictated by your financial goals. For example, if you wish to retire at 55 and you are 35, you need to invest for at least 20 years.  

As with all investments, you should only invest if you are committed to putting your money away for a few years knowing that there’s potential to either take a loss or make a gain. It’s important that you do not use any money which you may need in the immediate future such as your emergency cash savings.

What’s the best way to get started?

Once you’ve decided upon your investment goals and where you would like to invest, the best way to get started is to start! You may want to try out your chosen platform with a smaller amount so that you’re confident enough to invest more in the long-term.

At OpenMoney, we help beginners as well as experienced investors by simplifying the whole process. By taking our free financial health check here, you can find out whether investing now is a good move for you based on a few simple questions. If you are ready to invest, we’ll recommend the right investment products for you based on your goals, attitude to risk and the duration of your investment. Even if you aren’t yet ready to invest, we can set you on the right path by helping you manage and save your money.

Guest Blog: A beginner's guide to pensions
Rachael Revesz: Financial Journalist & Guest Blogger
October 22, 2020

The word “pension” refers to an age that many people consider light years away. Why bother saving for a pension when it’s so far down the road? But the importance of a pension is really simple – it’s designed to provide you with an income once you’ve stopped working. (I’m personall ydreaming about a luxury cruise.) Plus, pension money is protected and has great tax advantages. Read on…

How much pension do I need?

This answer varies for everyone and it depends how much you earn, how much you can afford to save, what age you want to retire, how much your employer contributes to your pension etc.

This government online calculator does a fabulous job of estimating what age you can retire and how much you would need to save in the meantime.The general advice from experts is always the same, however: save as much as you possibly can, and it’s never too early to start.

Think you can survive on a state pension?

If you do not save, and instead rely on the government’s state pension, you will have to wait until you hit retirement age which is 66 as o fOctober 2020 (and projected to rise). You will get a maximum of £175.20 a week – that’s if your national insurance record shows that you’ve worked for 35 years. The state pension amount is certainly not to be sniffed at, and we’re lucky in this country to have state support at all, but it may not be enough to maintain a lifestyle you’ve enjoyed during your working life.So the more we save beforehand, the better.

Free money from your boss!

Second, if you are fortunate enough to have a workplace pension,it’s a great idea to make the most of it. A scheme called auto-enrollment kicked in eight years ago, gradually requiring employers of all sizes to open a workplace pension and contribute to it on behalf of their employees. You, as an employee, are automatically opted in but you can opt out if you want to.

In 2020, your employer contributes a minimum of 3% of your salary,and you pay 5%. But that 3% from your employer does not come out of your salary, it’s equivalent to 3% of your salary. It’s essentially free money from your employer.

Tax-free savings

They say taxes are one of the very few certainties in life, but pension holders get a great deal. You can save up to £40,000 a year, tax-free, in a pension product – this is called your “pension annual allowance”. And that amount is double what you can save in one or more ISAs per year. (Granted, not that many people have £40,000 to put aside every year – but it’s good to know the option is there.)

What if I’m self-employed and don’t have a workplace pension?

You can open a pension yourself! You won’t get the contributions from an employer, but you will receive the tax benefits.

It’s important to do your research before opening a pension (Citizens Advice has useful information on that). How much does it charge? How easy is it to contact the provider? What kind of funds will your money be invested in? You may also want to contact a financial adviser.

As a freelancer, I also know the difficulty of knowing how much I can afford to put in my pension as I don’t always know my income in advance – I just save as much as I can throughout the year, pay my tax bill and put the rest into my pension and ISA.

Your money is protected

I’ve heard plenty people say, “Pensions are doomed. Look at the economy! I’m going to invest in property instead.”

Unlike owning a home, a pension is actually protected by the government, similar to your savings in a bank account, your ISA, or your money in Premium Bonds. This is because the Financial Services Compensation Scheme protects 100% of your pension money if your pension provider fails, and up to 85% protection if your Self-Invested Personal Pension operator fails.

Can I take my money before I retire?

Compared to a savings account or an ISA, it’s much more difficult to get your cash back early from your pension pot – without being landed with a massive tax bill.

The earliest you are able to take out money is age 55, if you have a company or private pension, where a quarter of the pot can be taken tax-free, and the rest used as an income on which you pay income tax.

But generally speaking, just like any money you invest, your pension is supposed to be invested over the long term.  

Tip: Don’t ignore your pension documents

Most pension providers will send you quite a hefty pack of documents once a year, including your annual statement. It will show your projected income at retirement age, which depends on you continuing to earn and save the same amount consistently until retirement age – it is not based on what you have contributed so far!

The documents should also tell you what you’re invested in, the annual costs and any changes in the investments – as well as how they’ve performed recently. (I would generally not get too tied up on the performance side of things, as it’s designed for the very, very long term.)

Thankfully, a lot more pensions now allow you to check up on your account online, and it may be easier to do that than plough through the paper.

Can I switch pensions?


If you’re in a workplace scheme you may be able to switch providers and keep your benefits from your employer – this will usually depend on the size of the company you work for and what alternatives are available.

It’s easier to change if you’re self-employed. You will need to a) choose a new pension product and b) tell your old provider where you’re switching to, so that the two companies can work together to do the transfer. Some providers take their sweet time, others are quicker. Just make sure before switching that you will not be charged any exit fees, and will not lose any benefits, especially if the pension is more than 10 years old.

In all scenarios, think carefully about why you want to switch, and get financial advice if you’re unsure.

Rachael Revesz is a freelance journalist and host of An Honest Account, a podcast about how money affects our lives. You can follow Rachael on Twitter, here.

App feature 1: Helping you budget better
Binyamin Ghaffar: Digital Marketing Apprentice
October 15, 2020

The OpenMoney app was launched in April 2019 and ever since then, we have been constantly trying to improve the user experience as well as add new features. This blog series will showcase the different money management tools available in the OpenMoney app and how you can use them to take back control of your money.

Our app has plenty of money management tools to help you keep track of your finances, and our budgeting tool is one of the most popular. Here’s how you can use it to get to grips with where you’re spending your money.  


Budgeting can be tedious and stressful, especially if you haven’t got the correct tools to help you out. Our tool makes budgeting fun (as fun as budgeting can be!) and easy to do. You can track your spending across 10 categories including rent, bills, transport, savings, dining/pub and more. Our app automatically categorises your transactions, so that you don’t have to, and shows you have how much you’ve spent each month per category, making budgeting a doddle!

How to set a budget in the app

  • Log in to the OpenMoney app
  • Head to the planning section (you’ll find this on the bottom of the home screen)
  • Select ‘Budgets’ from the top of the screen
  • Click ‘Set a budget’
  • Adjust each budget section of your choice using the plus and minus signs

The fun doesn’t stop there! You can choose when your summary resets by heading back to the budgets page and clicking on the date in the top left corner. You also have full control over when your summary period starts depending on what’s better for you - it couls be the first of every month, or your payday - It’s totally up to you!

Once that’s all done, head to the main budget page to see whether you’re on the right track or not. The app will tell you how much money you have spent and how much money you have remaining out of your total budget for each a specific category.

Want to start using our handy budgeting feature? You can download the OpenMoney app on both iOS and Android  to test out our new features!

Stay on the lookout for more features we'll be adding to our app in the coming months.

App update: To-do list and account linking
Thomas Potter - Senior Marketing Coordinator
September 11, 2020

We first launched the OpenMoney app in April 2019 and we’ve spent the past 18 months listening to user feedback on how we can improve the app and make managing your money a doddle.

We’re excited to announce that we recently released the newest version (v3.2.0) of the OpenMoney app that has some cool new features and improvements to your experience! We’ve introduced a new feature called the ‘To-do list’ that helps you create an accurate and complete financial picture and we’ve streamlined our onboarding and account linking process to give users access to our money management tools quicker. Read more about the new features below.

To-do list

We know that having all your accounts in one place makes it easier to organise your money and see what’s what. Now all of the OpenMoney app features are easy to see in our new to-do list tool! Here’s how it works.

Once you’ve linked a current account and logged-in to the OpenMoney app, the first thing you will see is a ‘To do list’ feature in the Home tab. The to do list introduces some of the useful functionality within the app such as budgeting, categorising transactions and setting up your regular payments whilst also prompting you to add additional accounts such as savings accounts, credit cards and pensions and investments.

By completing the to do list you are creating a complete financial picture of all of your accounts whilst also practicing good money management by setting budgets and organising your spend. Completing the to do list also allows us to get to work on analysing your accounts and seeing where you can be making your money work harder!

Download the OpenMoney app on iOS and Android and try out our new feature!

The OpenMoney To Do List

Linking accounts

In February we announced our partnership with Moneyhub who provide us with an Open Banking functionality to allow you to securely connect your financial accounts. We‘ve further refined the user journey to make it even easier to connect your accounts and we also now can link digital banks such as Monzo and Starling.

Open Banking allows us to safely and securely connect to your bank accounts without you needing to remember your details. So no more faffing with codes and numbers you can’t remember – but still completely safe and secure. The OpenMoney app prompts you to open your banking app and creates a connection between them both, all in the touch of a few buttons.

The streamlined onboarding allows you to connect your account quicker and get access to some of the brilliant in-app features.

Keep your eyes peeled for more feature announcements on the OpenMoney app.

In the news

How do I start investing?

A panel of experts explain the basics for first time investors.

Listen to the podcast

How to invest in your twenties

Dame Helena Morrissey discusses the different approaches to investing as a young adult.

Read article

Advice gap 2020

Research by OpenMoney and YouGov explores how the free advice gap is growing.

Read article

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