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Risk and reward

The level of investment risk varies between the different funds. Generally speaking, higher risk funds are expected to produce higher returns in order to 'reward' investors for taking more risk, however, their value can be unpredictable and can go down over shorter periods of time. In comparison, lower-risk funds are expected to produce lower returns as they look for stability over significant returns, so consequently it is expected investors might not be as rewarded. Therefore, the value tends to be more stable over shorter periods of time, however, over longer periods of time, there is a risk that the returns might be less than inflation, which means the value could fall in real terms.

Returns aren’t guaranteed and you’ll need to decide how much risk you’re prepared to take compared with the returns that you might receive, and whether you can afford to accept the risk that your account value may go down as well as up at certain times in your life.

Risk and reward


Whilst these funds fluctuate in value throughout the term of investment, they do offer more stability and are less likely to fall in value significantly, but as a result, they are also less likely to produce high returns.


Potential reward

Who is this suitable for?

If you’re near retirement, or you're a cautious saver, this investment strategy may be appropriate for you, but remember that over the longer term the returns may be lower than inflation, which means your investments would be worth less in real terms.


It's likely that there will be some volatility in the market, but the potential loss isn't as significant as with higher risk investments, although neither is the potential return.


Potential reward

Who is this suitable for?

This investment strategy may suit you if you're getting nearer retirement age and still want the potential for good returns, accepting that the value will continue to fluctuate, but with less risk, or if you’re not comfortable taking too much risk with your account value.


In general, the greater the volatility, the greater the potential return. However, high-risk investments are also more likely to fall in value at short notice.


Potential reward

high reward image

Who is this suitable for?

This investment strategy may be better for you if your retirement is a long way off, as your account would still have time to recover from any falls in value.

What do you need to think about?

There are a few things to consider when deciding how much risk to take:

  • When would you like to retire?
  • How much income do you think you’ll need in retirement?
  • Will you have savings or sources of income other than your pension?
  • How much risk are you prepared to take with the value of your contributions?

The modeller on Your Pension is a useful tool as it estimates the benefits you may receive and shows you the effect that changing your investment fund choices can have on your pension.

The case studies below show a couple of different approaches to investment.

Michael is 39 and has chosen LifePlan as his investment approach.

He doesn't feel he understands enough about investments to choose his own investment funds. He's happy to take some risk with his investments now, but plans to take cash from his pension when he retires to pay off debts. For this reason, he doesn't want to take any risk with his benefits closer to retirement and so he's chosen the Mixed Investment Fund as his Growth Fund option and Annuity as his Approaching Retirement Fund option.

Rosie is 28 and has chosen PersonalChoice as her investment approach.

She wants more choice and control over her investment strategy. She plans to take early retirement and so has decided that she wants to capitalise as much as possible on investment growth in order to retire when she'd like to. However, although she wants a high return on her investments, she doesn't want to risk all her pension contributions in volatile funds. For this reason, she's chosen to invest mainly in high-risk investment funds, but put a small percentage in low-risk funds, to better balance the potential risk and return.


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