Scottish Widows pension review

You don't have to be Scottish or a widow to choose this pension provider. We go through its features and benefits.


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Scottish Widows

What is Scottish Widows?

Scottish Widows is a life insurance and pensions provider located in Edinburgh (shocker!). It’s a subsidiary of Lloyds and has been around for more than 200 years (since 1815). It offers both personal pensions and workplace pensions. It also has life insurance and mortgage products, which we’ve reviewed.

Before you jump ship because you’re not Scottish or a widow – these aren’t requirements to get a product with Scottish Widows. The name is derived from the initial offering, which was set up to offer provisions for widows and female relatives of fundholders.

Scottish Widows personal pension

Retirement account

Scottish Widows’ retirement account helps you save up for your retirement and, eventually, take out your savings. Depending on where you are in your retirement journey, you can choose between retirement planning and retirement income.

Features of the Scottish Widows personal pension

  • Flexible. You can save and take out your savings when and however you choose.
  • Investment choice. You can choose from a range of different investments depending on what your goals are, when you plan to retire, how you feel about risk and how you plan to take your pension.
  • Clear charging structure. It’s easy to see what you’re paying for.
  • Up-to-date info. You can view the transactions online and keep track of your investments’ performance.

Key features of retirement planning with Scottish Widows

  • Consolidate your pensions. If you have a bunch of pensions from old workplaces, then you can bring them all together.
  • Plenty of investment choices. There are a number of investment options that you can choose.
  • Tax relief. This is kind of a given with all pensions – you usually get some kind of tax relief on the money you pay into your pension pot.
  • Pension encashment. You can take some or all of your retirement planning as a cash lump sum, and 25% of this is tax free.
  • Flexible retirement age. You can select a retirement age of up to 75 when you take out the account but can stay in it until you’re 99 if you want to.

Key features of retirement income with Scottish Widows

  • Flexible income. You can move your pension savings into retirement income, which allows you to take a flexible (and taxable) income. The rest still has the chance to grow.
  • Tax-free lump sum. You can take up to 25% of the money in your retirement income tax free.
  • Choose how often you want to be paid. Income can be paid on a monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or yearly basis.
  • Make changes whenever you like. Prefer to receive more frequent payments? You can change this whenever you want.
  • Ad-hoc payments. Need a little cash injection (don’t we all?). You can take ad-hoc payments if you need one.

Scottish Widows pension fees

The maximum amount you’ll pay on your investments is 1.1%, but, like other investing platforms, the more you invest, the less you pay in relation to your total investment.

The overall charges are split into two:

  • A maximum amount of 0.2% per year, depending on how you choose to take your pension when you retire.
  • A service charge of 0.1-0.9% per year that decreases the more you put in.

Total value of retirement account

From To less than Service charge (per year)
£0 £30k 0.90%
£30k £50k 0.40%
£50k £250k 0.30%
£250k £500k 0.25%
£500k £1m 0.20%
£1m and above £1m and above 0.10%

Pros and cons of Scottish Widows


  • Simple charging structure
  • Lots of flexibility with payment options
  • Wide range of funds available


  • Majority of funds have underperformed in recent years
  • Mixed customer reviews

Compare Scottish Widows with alternatives

Table: sorted by promoted deals first
Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Minimum investment Choose from Annual fee Brand description
Moneyfarm Pension
£1,500 (initial investment)
7 funds
Moneyfarm has pensions that are matched against your risk appetite, goals and planned retirement date. Capital at risk.
AJ Bell Pension
Over 2,000 funds
AJ Bell has two different pension options, a self managed pension and one that is managed for you. Capital at risk.
PensionBee Pension
No minimum
7 funds
0.5% - 0.95%
Pension Bee is a newbie in the pension market. It helps consolidate your pension plans into one place. Capital at risk.
Hargreaves Lansdown Pension
£100 or £25 a month
2,500 funds
Hargreaves Lansdown is the UK's biggest wealth manager. It's got three different retirement options. Capital at risk.
Interactive Investor Pension
Any lump sum or £25 a month
Over 3,000 funds
interactive investor is a flat-fee platform, which makes it cost effective for larger portfolios. Capital at risk.
Saxo Markets Pension
Saxo Markets Pension
Over 11,000 funds
No annual fee
Saxo Markets gives flexibility and control over your investment strategy. Capital at risk.
No minimum
4 portfolios
Moneybox Pension
3 funds
0.15% - 0.45% charged monthly
Manage your money with an easy-to-use Moneybox app. Capital at risk.

Compare up to 4 providers

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Price per trade Frequent trader rate Platform fees Brand description
Zero platform fee
Your first 50 trades are free with Fineco, until 31/12/2020. T&Cs apply.
Fineco Bank is good for share traders and investors looking for a complete platform and wide offer. Capital at risk.
0% commission on US shares, and £3 on UK shares
From £5
£0 - £24 per quarter
IG is good for experienced traders, and offers learning resources for beginners, all with wide access to shares, ETFs and funds. Capital at risk.
eToro Free Stocks
0% commission, no markup, no ticket fee, no management fee
Withdrawal fee & GDP to USD deposit conversion
Capital at risk. 0% commission but other fees may apply.
Hargreaves Lansdown Fund and Share Account
No fees
Hargreaves Lansdown is the UK's number one platform for private investors, with the depth of features you'd expect from an established platform. Capital at risk.
Degiro Share Dealing
£1.75 + 0.022% (max £5.00)
£1.75 + 0.022% (max £5.00)
Portfolio transfer fees (in & out)
Degiro is widely seen as one of the best low-cost share brokers, for people who are looking to trade regularly. Capital at risk.

Compare up to 4 providers

Data indicated here is updated regularly
Name Product Minimum deposit Maximum annual fee Price per trade Brand description
Hargreaves Lansdown stocks and shares ISA
Hargreaves Lansdown is the UK's biggest wealth manager. It's got everything you'll need, from beginners to experienced investors. Capital at risk.
Interactive Investor stocks and shares ISA
Any lump sum or £25 a month
Interactive Investor offers everything most investors need. Its flat fees makes it pricey for small portfolios, but cheap for big ones. Capital at risk.
Nutmeg stocks and shares ISA
Nutmeg offers three types of portfolios. Choose the one that goes with your investment style. Capital at risk.
Moneyfarm stocks and shares ISA
Capital at risk.
Saxo Markets stocks and shares ISA
No minimum deposit requirement
Saxo Markets offers a wide access to a range of stocks, ETFs and funds. Capital at risk.
AJ Bell stocks and shares ISA
AJ Bell is a good all-rounder for people who to choose between shares, funds, ISAs and pensions. Capital at risk.
Fidelity stocks and shares ISA
£1000 or a regular savings plan from £50
Fidelity is another good all-rounder, offering a good package at a decent price. Not suited for trading shares. Capital at risk.
Legal & General stocks and shares ISA
Legal & General stocks and shares ISA
£100 or £20 a month
Legal & General is a big financial services company which offers insurance, lifetime mortgage, pensions and stocks and shares ISAs. Capital at risk.

Compare up to 4 providers

All investing should be regarded as longer term. The value of your investments can go up and down, and you may get back less than you invest. Capital is at risk.

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