I was at a friend’s BBQ one summer and got chatting with someone (who turned out to be Stuart Arnold from Cullen Wealth).

At that time, I knew nothing at all about pensions and after I’d given him a brief overview of my situation, he said not to rush into anything but if I was interested, he could give me some free initial advice.

He came round for coffee later that week and looked over the paperwork. All I’d ever really done was receive my annual statement and file it away each year.

As he sat looking at my pension documents, he said I didn’t realise what I’d got and explained that my pension pot was worth £800,000. My eyes lit up as I hadn’t had any idea it was worth that much.

I’d worked for the same company for 39 years. I was already in a pretty good pension scheme but at 44, on being promoted to General Manager of one of the factories, I was moved into a final salary scheme at the same time as receiving a significant salary increase. The firm’s accountant told me that as I had plenty of disposable income at that stage of life, I should pay as much as possible into the pension scheme. Retirement seemed a long way off at the time but I took his advice and it obviously paid off. Between myself and the company, 34% of my salary was being paid into the pension fund which is why I ended up with such a good fund.

After discussing my situation with Stuart, I became a client of Cullen Wealth. Stuart advised me to take 25% of my lump sum tax free. I did that more or less immediately and bought a beautiful, detached villa in Turkey, where I enjoy spending time with my family.

My wife had died very suddenly which was a real wake up call and made me realise how important it is to make the most of life - you never know what’s around the corner.

Still in employment, the rest of my pension pot just stayed where it was. I carried on working up until about 3 and a half years ago. The final salary pension scheme had been closed and sold to an external company. It was protected but all that was being offered was an annuity rather than a drawdown type of pension. I certainly wouldn’t have been able to live the lifestyle that I’m enjoying now.

In a few years, I’ll be able to take my state pension so will review things again and slow down on what I’m drawing down.

I’ve been really impressed by Stuart’s knowledge and professionalism. He’s very aware of the markets that my fund is invested in and he’s enabled me to achieve my main goal; to have enough money to be able to live a good lifestyle.