Irish Life advises individuals and companies on all aspects of pension planning. Their pension funds return consistent growth, with average returns of 10.3% over the last three years. ( Source ) What lies behind the Irish Life Pension story? What plans do they offer, and are their fees acceptable?

Making the right choice of pension provider is all about finding out more about the company. Taking a look behind the scenes can tell a lot. If you like what a company offers, and are happy with the fees, then maybe they are the pension provider for you.  

Slow growth, high fees and poor communications are not what you need when your pension is at stake. Many people get stuck in the wrong pension fund, too, and need to find an alternative. Look before you leap is good advice when it comes to pension planning.

Let’s take a closer look at Irish Life Pensions.

Table of Contents

Who are Irish Life?

Irish Life is part of the Irish Life Group and offers pension planning to individuals and company clients. The group also provides health insurance and financial services through its other subsidiaries, Irish Life Health and Irish Life Financial Services.

The Irish Life Group has been in existence in one form or another since 1939. Initially formed by the Irish government, the company has been part of the Canadian company Great-West Lifeco since 2013. 

Irish Life is headquartered in Dublin and is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

What do they offer to the Irish market?

Irish Life has a range of three products on offer to the Irish pensions market. Each one has its benefits and is popular with Irish consumers.

PRSAs or Personal Pensions

For the individual pension holder. The Personal Retirement Savings Account helps employees save for their retirement. The individual fully owns the fund, and the PRSA is probably the most common form of personal pension planning in Ireland. 

Each individual makes contributions to the PRSA, though contributions from employers are possible too.

Company Pension Plans

Every company over a certain size should have a pension service for employees. The employer sets up Irish Life Company plans to offer a pension facility to their staff. Employers must contribute to the pension fund, as can the individual. The company appoints a board of pension trustees to oversee the workings of the plan. 

If you leave your job, Irish Life can transfer your pension earnings to another plan or PRSA.

Additional Voluntary Contributions

Employees who want to add to their company pension fund can do so under the AVC process. Any Additional Voluntary Contributions add more to a pension pot which benefits the employee when they retire. AVCs are very useful for someone who comes late to pension planning or decides they have extra cash to invest.

AVCs can also be done into a PRSA or other pension plan arrangements.

What are the Irish Life fees?

An excellent question and one that is never too late to ask. Every pension company, big or small, has fees and are one of the ways they make money. Fees can be fixed, a percentage of investments made or of the overall fund.

Any fees charged should not vary much between companies, but they do and are worth keeping an eye on by the pension investor. Fees charged by Irish Life are usually a percentage of the overall pension fund.

Yearly fees charged on their various PRSA funds are a standard 1% on all contribution types. With the Irish Life Personal and Company plans, of which there are many, fees range from 0.25% to 2.50%, depending on where and how funds are invested. 

Some plans have a €4.75 monthly fee for administration. 

See here for a table of fees and charges.

Is there an Irish Life pension plan calculator?

Yes, is the quick answer here. A great advantage of a good pension calculator is it will tell the investor exactly what they need to do for retirement planning. The Irish Life Calculator takes in salary, contributions and what is the expected income for when retired.

Other questions are around age, existing pension and employer contributions. 

The pension calculator gives the contributor a good idea of projected income and how much they will contribute getting there. Any shortfalls from the State Pension are included, as is a guide to the likely pension gap.

How about Post Retirement planning?

Irish Life offers a service for retirees who want to reinvest their existing retirement plan. 

ARFs or Approved Retirement Funds can be an excellent way to get increased returns from a pension fund. If a retiree does not wish to draw down the full pension fund or finds they can get by on a smaller income, then an ARF is a good option.

Have they got good growth levels?

Irish Life pension plans are a steady investment for retirement.

Growth is not always spectacular, but a regular return of over 10% can give a contributor a good idea of what to expect on retirement. It is possible, of course, to increase contributions or invest in a higher-risk plan.

Other companies in the Irish market may offer higher yields. Over the expected long life of a pension plan, an investor may look at steady growth levels and prefer the safe approach. 

Agreed fees stay the same for all plans, independent of growth.

Is there tax relief on an Irish Life retirement plan?

The Irish government offers tax relief to both individuals and companies on pension plans. The idea is to encourage saving for retirement and take pressure off the State Pension coffers. Not every pension plan qualifies for tax relief, but most do. 

There are significant tax savings to be made. When a contributor qualifies for tax relief, not only will they save money, but they can also keep adding to their pension pot. The more you add, to a specific limit, the more tax relief you get is the general idea. 

Most people qualify for the tax relief if they pay tax under Schedule D (case 1 or 11) and Schedule E.

Has Irish Life got a good app?

The Irish Life EMPOWER app allows all users to access information they need straight from their phone. EMPOWER app works with both iPhone and Android versions of software. Once the app is downloaded, you register to use it straight off the device.

The easy-to-use app allows users to check on the status of any pension plan with Irish Life. They can see how it is performing, projected earnings, income on retirement and all contributions made in the previous six months. Users of the app will also see potential changes to their funds if they make additional contributions or other amendments. 

Irish Life pension advisors can be contacted via the EMPOWER app using the Query service.

Can i cash in my Irish life pension early

In many cases you can cash in your Irish life pension early, but only under certain circumstances. The options available differ depending on the type of plan initially taken out with Irish Life.

The value of the pension fund may not be at the expected amount if left until normal retirement age. There may also be tax implications.

Irish life PRSA holders

Investors with a PRSA can withdraw money from their fund at age 50, if they have stopped PAYE employment or self-employed work. From age 60 to 75, money can be withdrawn without the need to retire fully.

PRSA holders with a fund of less than €650 and who have not made a contribution in over two years can take money from the plan.

Irish life Company pension plan holders

The situation with an Irish life company pension plan holder is a bit more complicated. Usually, contributors cannot access the saved money until reaching retirement age, 65 years in Ireland.

In certain cases, the trustees may allow access to employees who wish to retire from 50 onwards and finish with all PAYE employment.

If an employee suffers from ill health and cannot work, arrangements can be made for them to retire once they turn 50.

Irish Life AVCs

As an AVC is part of an agreed pension plan, it is only possible to access the funds on retirement. The usual rules apply, but, as in the cases above, you may be allowed to cash in the AVC value under certain circumstances.

Irish Life Pensions

Irish Life offers pension services to companies, employees and self-employed individuals. The amount of investment and expected return differs from plan to plan. Irish Life fees are subject to the usual terms and conditions.

Learn more

To learn more about Irish life pensions and if they are right for you, get in touch with us today by making an inquiry below. A member of our team will be in touch with you for a free consultation.

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