A couple of years ago, I’d finished the job I was doing at the time and had recently turned 55. On the domestic front, I no longer had a mortgage, the second of our two kids had just left home and so it was a natural time to consider what to do next.

Someone had told me that pensions were very different these days and as I’d known some of the team at Cullen Wealth for many years (ever since school, in fact) I decided to approach them for some professional advice.

Paul Delargy, one of the advisers, confirmed that it would be worth looking at my pension arrangement as there might well be things I could do that I hadn’t been aware of. I’d worked in production management in manufacturing businesses mainly and also had had a period of self-employment and done some customer service consultancy.

This meant I’d had four separate periods of occupational service with different company pension schemes so I knew there could potentially be quite a lot of investigation needed. It seemed a complex job to me but Paul was very knowledgeable and offered some sensible recommendations.

I’d reached a point where I wasn’t keen on actively pursuing my career anymore and I no longer relished the thought of full time work. Paul talked a lot of common sense, making me realise that I might not need as much money in my retirement as I’d thought and that there were a range of options open to me.

It’s easy to assume you need the same level of income as when you were earning but unless you’re planning on cruising round the world for 365 days a year, you can make certain adjustments to your lifestyle. The idea of taking a pension, scaling back and working less was beginning to sound quite attractive.

After doing some cashflow modelling with a number of different scenarios, Paul was able to recommend some practical
solutions. I opted to transfer one of my pensions and take some of my entitlement, allowing the other schemes to continue to my normal retirement date. I also took on some part-time work.

I’ve been impressed with how professional, friendly and approachable Cullen Wealth have been. I feel I can always pick up the phone to discuss any query I may have. They’re a good sized firm to work with – large enough so that they have some critical mass but not so big that they’re impersonal. I know they’ve been around a while so I feel I can trust them. They’re also incredibly thorough and make sure they are compliant with all the regulations. A pension is an important asset so it was reassuring to me to know they had considered every detail. I was confident that what they were proposing was well thought out and tailored to my needs; not a ‘one size fits all’ solution.

The advice Cullen Wealth gave me opened up a whole new world of possibilities. It enabled me to step back from full-time work and take on a part-time job, doing something I like doing rather than something I have to do. I’ve had the time to take up watercolour painting, do some voluntary work with a homeless charity and read with children in a primary school. We might not be on a cruise every day of the year but we’ve done some travelling to places like Morocco and enjoyed the sun in Spain.

Life certainly has a much better balance to it now, having taken the time to review and consider my pensions.