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Home Finance Two heads are better than one: Couples who share decision making do better at retirement planning

Two heads are better than one: Couples who share decision making do better at retirement planning

by uma


  • Over half (51%) of households where partners take decisions together are on track for a moderate retirement income according to the HL Savings and Resilience Barometer.
  • This compares to 45.5% where people said their partner made the decision and 42% where people said they did it on their own.
  • Overall, 42% of households are on track for a moderate retirement income.
  • Almost one in five (18%) of households who take decisions together were on track for a better retirement than ‘moderate’ – and are classed as ‘comfortable’
  • This compares to 15% of households overall.

Helen Morrissey, head of retirement analysis at Hargreaves Lansdown:

“When it comes to financial decision making, two heads are better than one. Over half of households (51%) where partners take big financial decisions together are on track for a moderate retirement income. This is significantly higher than both the overall average (42%) and for those households where key decisions are left to one person.

When we look at those households currently on track for a slightly more generous retirement income –classed as ‘comfortable’ – the same trend can be seen – 18% of households where partners make financial decisions together are on track compared to 15% overall.

The figures used for a moderate and comfortable retirement come from the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association’s Retirement Income Standards. This research puts the cost of a moderate retirement income at £23,300 for a single retiree and £34,000 for a couple. A comfortable retirement income is estimated at £37,300 for one person and £54,500 for a two-person household. Looking at these figures it is easier for a couple to hit these standards than their single peers, but it helps if you plan together.

Talking through retirement decisions as a couple can prove hugely useful. Having an open and honest conversation with your partner enables you to have an overarching view of your finances and know which gaps need to be plugged. You can find out what each person’s expectations for retirement are and make a plan that suits you both. Leaving big financial decisions to one partner often means the other one is left in the dark about what decisions have been taken and when. This can leave one partner severely disadvantaged in the event of the relationship ending or they may struggle to know what planning has been made should one partner die unexpectedly.

When planning for retirement together it is hugely important not to neglect one partner’s pension planning at the expense of the other. One partner’s pension provision may be very generous and enough to keep you both in a good standard of living but if you and your partner split up then one person – often the woman – can find themselves approaching retirement with little, if any, pension provision. Helping both partners to build up their pensions means both partners continue to benefit if they remain together while giving them a valuable income safeguard should they split up.”