Why retirement planning is always important

Karen Bennett explains why planning for retirement is always important – even if you’re an expat – how you can start to think through the decisions and why starting early brings benefits.
Published 30 August
4 mins

Having worked in financial services since 1999, there are many famous idioms and quotes that have stuck in my mind that have made their way into the articles and other literature I produce as part of my job. One of my favourites is by Mahatma Gandhi who stated: “The future depends on what you do today”.

I first heard the statement during a Gandhi Jayanti festival in Bangalore celebrating the birthday of the Indian activist. At the time, I had been an expatriate for almost ten years, mostly in Asia, and would continue as one for another ten, before finally returning to wholly and permanently live in the UK in 2012. The phrase resonated on so many different levels. As such, I‘ve joined in events I might initially have baulked at, and I’ve sought to proactively tackle the more thorny issues, including sorting out my finances.

In the same way that tradesmen often grumble that they are constantly nagged by their partner to finish the jobs at home that they do professionally, I am confident that there are other professional advisers and executives in the financial services sector who haven’t planned their finances, despite access to (free) advice and an increased level of knowledge. And I was definitely in that crowd.

For me, the most difficult of all money matters have focused on retirement, due to the plethora of choices that need to be considered and various scenarios planned for, even if a final decision isn’t possible for decades. As I stood on the bricks forming the central reservation on Mahatma Ghandhi Road in Bangalore, with trucks passing inches from my nose, it occurred to me that I might not need any savings, but it’s always good to view life with a glass-half-full mentality.

As such, the most obvious questions were around my ideal date of retirement, whether I would be interested in pursuing a second career, such as a non-executive director role, and, if not, what I would do with myself if I decided to stop working.

Another hurdle to retirement planning is that finally deciding on an answer – even a loose one – usually throws up new questions. So, once I’d decided that I would want to live in the UK and not in a holiday home, I had to decide how much time I’d spend in the same home before I would eventually have to downsize, given I live (and always wanted to live) in a Grade II property that always needs work doing.

If I move, how would I keep an active social life — should I plan to pursue more hobbies and interests, start courses or join clubs? How much of a social life does my work currently involve and what would my plans be to replace these evenings when I retired?

Then there are the questions directly linked to money and what ‘shape’ retirement might look like for cashflow planning purposes – e.g. travelling a lot early on, then seeing life quieten down, but perhaps also a need to spend to future proof my home or eventually fund long-term health care. Do I want to gift money to help the next generation(s) and what buffer might I need given my family’s history of living life into their late 90s?

While many of these questions remain unanswered to this day, the sheer number of options made me realise that I would want to be able to make choices throughout life, and not be forced down a particular post-retirement path due to my finances – not least as it’s difficult to restart work after you’ve retired.

Regardless of whether I retired to the UK or not, I was sure I would work there and so I started making Class 3 national insurance payments from day one of my working life, for which I am grateful given you need 35 years of contributions after the rules changed in 2016. I am sure that I probably won’t benefit fully from the current UK state pension triple lock – especially given the recent decision by the government to suspend it for 2022-2023 – but a pension should cover (most of) the basics, such as food and utility bills.

Meanwhile, I have also put money towards a pension – albeit in Hong Kong’s basic mandatory provident fund scheme – and saved into a general savings account ahead of QNUPS legislation in 2010. As soon as I was back in the UK, I made sure I used as much of my pension annual allowance as I could. The money invested has benefited from a bold appetite for risk. And, although the returns will compound given I can’t withdraw anything until I’m 57, a focus on fees has meant that I have avoided as much negative compounding as I could.

Life as an expatriate often means you only have the next two to three years in focus, at least as far as my friends and I were concerned. This time frame became a stock response over 14+ years in Asia whenever I was asked how long it would be before I might move back to the UK.

However, I will forever be grateful for the impetus of the line from India’s Bapu [a Gujarati endearment for father] that retirement planning should be a consideration for the here and now, and you should start saving as much as you can, given its importance for the longest holiday of your life – if that’s what you want – or however you choose to spend your retirement.

Clients of Nedbank Private Wealth can get in touch with their private bankers directly to understand more about their finances or call +44 (0)1624 645000 and speak to our client services team.


If you would like to start a conversation with our wealth planning team about how we can help you plan for your retirement – with absolutely no obligation to continue following a conversation or even a meeting – we’d be delighted to hear from you. Just call the number above or get in touch using the links to the forms towards the end of this page.

The structures and wrappers used are provided for illustrative purposes only, and are not to be read as an invitation or inducement to buy a service. This content does not constitute advice or a personal recommendation. Individuals should seek professional advice, based on their jurisdiction and personal circumstances, before making any financial decision.

about the author

Karen Bennett

Karen Bennett

Karen joined Nedbank Private Wealth in 2019 and is based out of the London office. She brings to the table over 23 years’ experience in financial services in Asia, Europe and the UK, primarily in investment and wealth management.


Karen works with the private banking teams to identify trends in wealth management and develop initiatives to help private clients understand the opportunities for their wealth, as well as the hurdles. She also works with the company’s network of finance, fiduciary and advisory professional partners to introduce our services and ensure Nedbank Private Wealth is seen as the provider of choice for high net worth individuals and their advisers.


Outside of work, Karen is on the management board of Women in Banking & Finance UK, an ambassador for Insuring Women's Futures and a member of the board of trustees for International Children's Trust. Karen holds a business degree earned in Germany and the UK.

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