Personal Pensions

A Guide to Understanding Personal Pension in Ireland – Is it right for You?

Personal Pension, simply put, is a form of pension which is contributed voluntarily by self-employed people or those having an employment but not covered by any form of employment or occupational pension. It is necessary that any individual who is taking a personal pension plan needs to belong to the former or latter category.

What’s alarming to note is that 90% of the adult working population in Ireland do not keep up with their pension savings, which could be disastrous. In a country where the average life expectancy of a typical adult is 81.5 years, and considering most retire by the age of 60 to 65, these people are missing out on a secure annual income when they can no longer work for a living.

The legislation for personal pension has seen changes over the years, based on the background of existing economic scenario and the financial market conditions. Unlike the general rule, pension laws are not subject to Pension Authority regulations. Instead, it is governed by tax laws and financial regulations. These financial legislations are based on Insurance sector enactments.

Personal pensions are also formally known as Retirement Annuity Contracts or Additional Voluntary Contributions.


Rules governing Personal Pension Plans

Personal Pension in Ireland works somewhat like an Insurance policy. The fund holder or the contributor will pay a minimum annual amount to the pension fund for a fixed tenure. Most of these pension funds are owned by Insurance companies. These Insurance companies would create an investment fund from the premium so received. Once the tenure gets completed, the fund holder can use the accumulated funds to buy an annuity.

Some recent changes have made it possible to move from one fund to another, which was not allowed earlier. At the same time, the necessity of buying an annuity on maturity of tenure has been removed – This has seen as a great relief for Personal Pension holders.

Knowing certain Terminologies

Approved Retirement Fund (ARF) – It is the approved account to which the Personal Pension funds can be transferred for the purpose of re-investment. However, every withdrawal will be subject to income tax. Any of the following condition needs to be fulfilled before taking the ARF as per the modified rules since 2011 –

  • Have an assured personal income throughout life of at least €12,700 per year which can include state pension
  • Hold an investment of €63,500 in an AMRF (which is explained below)
  • The holder of an annuity which is not less than the value of €63,500
  • Has reached the age of 75 years

Approved Minimum Retirement Fund (AMRF) – It is the same as above with the following conditions –

  • The person must have reached the age of 75 years
  • Has started receiving an assured personal income of €12,700 per year
  • Cannot make a withdrawal of more than 4% in a year


Benefits of setting up a Personal Pension Plan

  1. Assured retirement income –

Improved healthcare services have made life longevity the common norm. However, the working age capacity for every adult is limited by body and health constraints. The more one contributes to savings in their career, the better will be the regular income that will accrue once the no-work age threshold approaches. This is an overriding need and primary benefit of investing in a personal pension fund. It is a MUST if the person is self-employed or not covered by occupational pension of any form.

  1. Income Tax Relief –

All contributions to Personal Pensions are subject to income tax relief as specified by the financial legislation and subject to age and amount bracket. The upper limit permissible for calculating the amount of revenue liable to tax relief is capped at €115,000. Any amount above this will be treated as income and subject to income tax. There is a defined age bracket corresponding to the net relevant earnings for the same to have tax rebate and is as shared below –

Age Tax qualifying amount Amount considered max contribution
Within 30 years 15% of net relevant earnings €17,250
30 to 39 years 20% €23,000
40 to 49 years 25% €28,750
 50 to 54 years 30% €34,500
 55 to 59 years 35% €40,250
 60 and above 40% €46,000


It has to be noted that the maximum upper limit is applicable for persons of all occupations irrespective of age. The best example will be sportsmen who have limited playing age.

  • Tax-free performance –

From the stage of pension contribution to the final stage of retirement, there is no tax levied on any form of income generated through investment of these funds. For example, stocks or mutual funds dividends have no tax liability which makes perfect sense to invest in them.

  1. Tax-free retirement lump sum

upon reaching a retirement age, the pension contributor has a tax-free lump sum amount of €200,000.

Any lump sum payments beyond €200,000 and those up to €500,000 will have a 20% tax bracket rate.

  1. Transfer from one fund to another –

As per amendment done in the year 1999, the pension contributor can easily move from one fund to another as he or she deems fit so that the contributor doesn’t have to be tied to just one option.


Other charges and changes applicable:

  • The financial laws were changed in the year 2011 for investing in ARF and AMRF. These changes were negated in the financial act of 2013 and the pre-2011 act was revalidated. From the year 2016 the changes of 2011 were made applicable again.
  • The levy of 0.6% on market value of assets in personal and occupational pension funds has been abolished.
  • The Personal pension is subject to PRSI and USC.
  • If the fund is unused at the time of death, it is taken as part of estate and CAT is applicable on the inheritors.
  • If the fund benefit has been availed and part of it is invested in ARF at the time of death, then the balance is taken into estate and tax at marginal rate is deducted.


Seek out a reliable Financial Adviser to get all the Facts right

The first and foremost thing that any Financial Advisor worth his/her salt would tell you is – the sooner you start with a Personal Pension plan, the better. In order to help secure your future, you would need an appropriate estimate of your monthly pension savings so that you can have a reasonably good standard of living by the time you retire.

Pension planning is crucial, and here at Murray Financial Services, we are all about providing trusted investment advice when it comes to your retirement planning, life cover, investments, and more. Our advisors take time to consider the varied interests of our clients, because we know there isn’t a “one-size fits all” solution.

We discuss each aspect of your retirement goals, your financial well-being, and whatever apprehensions you may have to arrive at a customized Personal Pension Plan that is drawn up based on our expertise in the financial market.

If you believe Personal Pension plan is something that you would like to know more of and invest in a retirement fund, then visit to get more information. Alternatively, you can also call us on 091 740 700 to set up an appointment.









Re-mortgaging Your Home

Things to Consider When Re-mortgaging Your Home in 2018 in Ireland

The holistic concept of re-mortgage revolves around the judicious use of an existing mortgage to take a new mortgage for the purpose of saving costs as well as other benefits. Explained in the simplest of terms, re-mortgaging is the method by which a home owner, having a running mortgage, attempts to reduce the interests and increase the benefit on the repayments by transferring to a different lender.

Do you have a mortgage that’s pinching your pocket more than what you’d like? Read on to find out how you can leverage the concept of re-mortgage to help you save money. Proper financial planning in life is the precursor to a happy and secured future.

In a nutshell, re-mortgage implies going through the process of mortgage once more, with the purpose of reducing the existing payment burdens, or having additional finances, or a combination of both. It is mandatory that at least one secured collateral loan should be running which is the base for every re-mortgage.

The re-mortgage can be done with the existing lender, or with new banks and financial institutions which throws open plenty of options for the borrower.


What are the Real Benefits of Opting for Re-mortgage?

Having one’s own house is a dream and also a necessity. Mortgage is the practical option of owning a home for any typical individual who’s either salaried or self-employed. Now, if you’re a salaried individual, you probably know that your income never remains stagnant. It varies over the years in relation to your career or job progression. In most of the scenarios, it normally goes on an upward trajectory, while in some unlucky cases, it can take the descendant path too. In both the scenarios, reworking of the running loan can prove beneficial.

Many banks and financial lenders release tempting mortgage offers with reduced interest rates in order to pull customers. When such offers become available, the existing borrower can always see the reduction in interest rates that accrues to them over the current interest rate they are paying. Once satisfied, they can switch over to a new lender.

  1. Lowering the Interest Rates:

Many banks offer variable rates of interest when a mortgage is released. These may change in accordance to the market conditions of Ireland and the Central Bank’s credit policies. Any increase in the interest rate is always burdensome, especially when income is stagnant. In such times, it is ideal to consider re-mortgage with other banks having a fixed rate of interest. It is better to reduce the mortgage term to a lesser tenure of 15 or 20 years albeit with a higher monthly instalment. Lengthy repayment schedules mean paying atrociously high interest rates.


  1. Consolidation of Existing Debts:

The need to consolidate any existing short-term debts is a catalyst necessitating the re-mortgage. It is better to merge existing loans like personal loans into the re-mortgage, with a single mode of monthly payment. The terms and criteria will vary for different lenders of course. The general rule is that it should not exceed more than 10% of the re-mortgage amount.


  • Equity Release

Equity release is another factor which helps every borrower. It is a form of refinance or additional amount granted against the existing mortgage. The equity is the difference between the current market value of the property and the pending mortgage amount. To take an example –

If the current worth of the property owned by Gary is €180,000, and the mortgage amount is €130,000, then Gary is liable for an equity release of up to 90% (mostly) of the property value. This means he can avail €50,000 of equity release which he can use for some important commitments, say, paying for his daughter’s education.

  1. Home Renovation

The above-mentioned form of top up re-mortgage can also be used for home improvement. This is a growing trend in Ireland. Instead of investing in a new suburban villa, families tend to improve the aesthetics of their existing homes. In such cases, they approach the existing lender for loan enhancement. There are also tax rebates given by the Government in certain scenarios.

The Home Renovation Incentive (HRI) scheme allows for a tax credit of 13.5% of qualified work, up to an amount of €30,000. To avail this, all qualified work must be successfully executed between 25th of October 2013 and 31st of December 2018.


It needs to be noted that while re-mortgage centres on home buyers, in recent times, there has been the increasing use of commercial properties for the same purpose. This is because businesses always require liquidity and refinance for expansion activities.


Scope of Home Re-Mortgages in Ireland

The trend of re-mortgaging homes, though slow to start off at first, is catching up in the country. The most important factor cited by people when talking about re-mortgaging is the sheer lack of knowledge they possessed on the matter. There are several first-time home buyers who would’ve gladly switched lenders on their existing mortgages had they known the advantages earlier.

The Central Bank of Ireland in 2015, published an Economic study called Switch and Save in the Irish Mortgage Market? that details the various benefits that a borrower can enjoy when switching between lenders. According to the study,

  • An estimated 21% of loans could save significant money through re-mortgaging, out of the half a million mortgages analysed
  • Out of this percentage, 16,000 borrowers can stand to save over €1,000 in the first year alone; and about 27,000 borrowers can save upwards of €10,000 over the loan tenure
  • Though consumers have to shell out additional legal fee when switching lenders, which could be approximately €1,300, an estimated 70% of borrowers could recover this financial cost in the first 12 months itself
  • Since 2014, only 38 borrowers every month took up re-mortgages from different lenders (only considering the 5 biggest banks in the country)


How to Evaluate and Select the right Re-mortgage

Online check – It is the digital era now. Every buying and selling activity is influenced online through information and knowledge repositories. There are several websites offering re-mortgage services as a consultancy. They present the comparative details of the various lenders. It is always better to refer to more than one website in order to arrive at a correct decision. A detailed study is the need of the hour.

Evaluate all Hidden cost – Whenever a switchover to a new lender is finalized, there are several hidden costs which may not be apparent at one go. These include the legal, processing, and administrative charges. It should not be that in the temptation to save on interests, the final payment becomes more through such charges. The Annual Percentage Rate of Change (APRC) is the best tool to ascertain the exact quantitative net savings.

Evaluate all the open costs –  This includes: pending tenure, existing and new interest percentage, amount of interest to be paid in old and new loans, other legal costs, etc. Final decision should be made only if there is a crystal-clear savings on the interest part.

Debt Consolidation angle – When going for debt consolidation, the borrower should take the utmost care to see that the interest payment is saved and that it does not spread into the re-mortgage payment, thereby having a reverse effect.

Loan-to-Value factor – This points to the percentage value the borrower can avail as compared to the current market value of the property? The lower the value, more will be the number of deals that the borrower will qualify for with liberal terms and conditions. The Loan-to-value is calculated by dividing the outstanding mortgage value with the property’s current market value and then multiplying it by 100. (The concept is similar to equity release but expressed as a market measure)

The Redemption cost – Many lenders charge a fee on closing the mortgage before the expiry of its scheduled payment tenure. Sometimes these charges are stringent. The borrower needs to select the particular lender whose redemption charge does not exceed the interest saving benefit. If a small tenure is pending, it is always better to close it in the normal cycle.

Property Estimation – Different banks may take a different estimation of the property value. The lender who has low interest rates and other low-cost factors may not be of much benefit if they have conservative property valuation parameters.


Talk to a Mortgage Advisor to sort things Out 

Whether you’re a first-time home buyer or plan to switch mortgages, finding the best deal may not be as easy it sounds. Yes, there are certainly savings to be made when re-mortgaging your home, but the underlying legal and administrative charges threaten to bring your costs up if you’re not careful.

Let Adrian Murray and his team of Financial Specialists guide you through the cobweb of Mortgage Laws and find you the best deal on the market. Murray Financial Services are not tied up with any one particular financial institution and thus provides transparent, unbiased, and professional advice to our customers on the matters of Mortgages, Investments, Pensions, and Insurance Protection.

Backed by over 10 years of serving the Irish financial market, our advisors help you right through the process of availing the best re-mortgaging offers by negotiating better with our growing network of the best lenders in the country. As we possess one of the highest rate of mortgage approvals in the market, we have a history of saving hundreds of our clients thousands of Euros in the past.

Do get in touch with us now by calling 091 765400 or visit to leave your query and we’ll get back to you.

Life Protection Cover

A Simple Breakdown of the Various Life Covers in Ireland and How to Pick the Best One

Life Cover, also called Life Insurance is intended to assure oneself that the insurance company will pay a lump sum to protect your family financially in case of any uncertainty. All that you need to think of is, how much should be the sum assured, for how long you want your life insured, amount of premium you can manage to pay, and whether you want to pay annually or monthly.

Why do you need a Life Cover?

Let’s face it. None of us can predict the future accurately; and no matter which crystal ball you gaze into, the future still remains largely unknown. Wouldn’t it make sense to know that your family is taken care of financially, in the event of an untoward instance? We all have our loved ones and we don’t want them to suffer financially even after our death. We would like them to be financially independent to meet their immediate needs so that life is not too difficult for them, long after we’re gone.

Being an earning member and providing for the family, it’s only logical to look out for their well-being and protect them. A young mother’s death may require help to the family to take care of the kids in her absence. One may have taken a mortgage for their home; and in case of an unfortunate death of the person, a life cover is essential to ensure repayment of the loan.

Especially if you’re availing a mortgage to purchase a house, your lender needs to ensure you have a Mortgage Protection Policy as per Section 126 of the Consumer Credit Act 1995 of Ireland. Thus, all mortgage organisations require an insurance cover to avoid default of loans in the unlikely death of the person seeking a mortgage.

Funeral costs for final rites are an urgent and imminent need that a life cover will provide for. The family of the patient suffering critical ailments before death, will need to meet the hospital expenses later on, which can be covered.

The main advantage of a life cover is the peace of mind it provides to the head of the family, and assurance about the welfare of his/her loved ones on unfortunate demise.


What are the Choice of Policies available?

In Ireland, the following choices are available to a person interested in safeguarding his/her family’s interests.

  1. Decreasing life cover:

The amount of cover and its cost reduces every year as the policy is nearing maturity. This policy is preferred when it is availed for a mortgage on a loan.

  1. Term life insurance:

This is chosen when you want to insure your life for a certain period of time, which could be for 5 years or a specified period. This may work out cheaper for the individual as it is not a whole life policy.

  1. Life-long insurance:

This kind of policy provides insurance throughout one’s life and hence it costs more. This can be taken to pay inheritance tax too.

  1. Mortgage Insurance:

This is required by mortgage companies to repay the loan in the event of the death of the loanee.

  1. Pension life insurance:

This is taken out to provide a pension after the retirement of a person so that there is money to manage life till death.


Life Insurance Cover in Ireland in Numbers:

Insurance Ireland, in its Factfile report of 2016, states that €8,745m was paid out by life insurance companies in the country in 2016, which includes payment of: mortgages, income, and payouts for policyholders, annuity income, and lumpsum payouts.

Irish Life, in its latest annual claims report, has published that it has paid out nearly €130 million just in death claims that translates to 98% of successful claims.

Bank of Ireland paid out Life Insurance payments amounting to €105 million in 2016, with €52,400 being the largest payout.

New Ireland Assurance rolled out its 2017 Claims Statistics report, which mentions €70.5 million of life cover payments were made and the average claim amount being €51,358.

As stated by this article, Ireland’s Department of Finance has decided to look into the existing life insurance policies in order to protect the interests of the customers by reducing the premiums.

Also, this source points out that the Insurance Premiums are being lowered than ever before, when compared to someone who had taken out a cover during the pre-2008 ‘boom years’.

Thus, it’s probably the best time to go out and get a life cover to keep your family safeguarded and also avail lower premiums.


Tips When Choosing Life Cover:

When you decide to get a life cover, these are what you need to take care of:

  • Try to buy a life cover as early as possible in your life. Older you are, costlier is your policy.
  • Decide on how much you need? This is the most important decision. You need to think about inflation. Think of a reasonable amount your family will need after the period for which you have insured your life. In general, it is advised to get a life cover whose total amount equates to 2/3rd of your net annual income multiplied by the number of years you have till retirement.
  • Find an independent insurance advisor to help you make your decision about the company you insure in, the amount you would like to insure for, the period and the costs involved, and the plan most suitable for you. Generally, insurance marketers try to convince you on plans that is most profitable for them.
  • Compare between policies to decide which benefits you more based on your immediate and forecasted needs.
  • Think before you leap! Discuss with your spouse or family members before you make your decision.
  • As your mortgage provider requires you to have a life cover policy, they might push you to go for a certain cover that may not always be in your best interests. Always do your research first and never accept one blindly suggested by your mortgage provider.


Get the Best Insurance Advice from a reputed Insurance Broker

Going through the various life cover policies can be hard, time-consuming & also confusing on a lot of levels. When you speak to an established Insurance Broker, the advisors look to alleviate all your concerns and provide you unbiased, ethical, and legal advice on getting the best policy that is suited to your individual requirements.

Murray Financial Services has been in the business of saving people money for over 10 years by giving out practical financial advice for people looking to buy Life Cover. You can also bank on their Financial services, pertaining to Personal Pension Plans, Personal Retirement Savings Accounts, and even Mortgage Consultations.

At Murray Financial Services, we always keep your priorities above and beyond everything we do, so you get the maximum benefits with a Life Cover in the way of reduced costs and tax savings.

Call 091 740700 or visit to understand the finer points of getting a Life Insurance Cover and leverage the expertise of our financial advisors.



Income Protection

Why Should You Consider Income Protection Cover?

The need to protect your income is something that cannot be sidetracked or put on suspension mode. In slightly ominous overtones, it would be unwise to brush aside the thought of today’s perfect health, turning into some unexpected and unwanted health concern, tomorrow.

Such an out of the blue health impediment can put sudden breaks on the earning capacity of any individual. This health hurdle can afflict anyone – whether you’re young, middle-aged or veering towards elderliness.  It will be an awful prospect if you would be unable to work, for a short or long span, and thereby find your income earning capacity restricted all of a sudden.


The Need for Income Protection

Income protection is a form of insurance coverage which helps an individual to continue availing a certain amount of regular income, even when s/he is unable to work. This is until he or she joins back to work having recovered from an impending illness. In layman terms, coverage is taken for an unexpected income loss, due to a variety of health reasons. The premium that must be paid is the cost that which will be incurred for uninterrupted continuation of the working income.

Consider these facts –

  • In 2017, Irish Life, one of Ireland’s biggest Life Assurance and Pensions Company paid €57 Million in Income Protection Claims.
  • On average, the 3,323 individuals who filed for Income Protection claims got €22,659 as they were unable to work due to illness or injury.
  • One of the biggest claim payout that Irish Life paid last year was €297,000.
  • Bank of Ireland, on the other hand, paid an average amount of €21,395 to its claimants.

Now imagine the loss of income that these people would’ve had to face had they not availed an Income Protection policy to cover them.


The Utility of Income Protection

There is often a tendency to overlook the apparent usefulness or utility of Income Protection. This is because most working professionals take what they conclude, is the more important form of insurance i.e. Sickness and Life. However, there is a major differentiating factor.

Serious Illness Cover encapsulates certain major illness which entails a good amount of medical expenditure and time on that specific illness. The illnesses related to income protection, though a minor irritant, can have a MAJOR impact of blocking your regular income.

The insurance proceeds from a Life Cover have its due importance to the family members, but at the terrible cost of the person no longer being alive.

Income Protection Cover, on the contrary, takes care of the family and the person while the person is alive. In that sense, it can be termed as a sort of “Happy Coverage” for the individual and his/her immediate family members.

It is a HIGH PRIORITY need for the self-employed to go for income protection since they are subject to the vagaries of irregular income and furthermore do not have social benefit coverage.


The Scope, Terms, and Conditions of Income Protection

The Income Protection insurance is applicable to all those persons who broadly fall into the following category:

A working individual having some form of income from a particular job or profession, and within the age group of 18 to 75 years.

The person is then affected by any form of illness that prevents them from working for a period of 4 weeks or more, thereby causing a stoppage of income.

The inability to work may be caused by ANY form of illness, health problem, injury or disability. The pre-defined illnesses do not come under part of this. The illnesses may include minor ailments like – headache, backache, stress or the more spread out cases like – fracture, stent, hip joint replacement, early chemotherapy, and also cover mental health.


The Amount Applicable and Other Clauses

The total coverage that the insured person can avail from the insurer will be equivalent to 75% of the total annual income.

The total insured payout amount of 75% takes into account the social benefit/medical allowance due and disbursed to the insured person. It will also consider income from any other sources. The final payout will be done post the deduction of social benefits and any other income or dividend.


For a simpler understanding of the calculations, here’s an example –

Say, Mr. Thomas has an income of 65,000 per annum.

He also qualifies a maximum illness benefit of €198 per week, amounting to €10,296 for the financial year.

Then, Mr. Thomas also gets income from renting his property leased at €9,000 per annum.

Then the total insured amount due will be:

€48,750 (75 % of €65,000) minus €10,296 minus €9,000 = 29,454.


The payout by most of the insurance companies will come in the form of monthly payments.

There will be something called as the Deferred Payments once the income protection insurance comes into effect. This is basically the time frame subsequent to when the pay-outs start getting disbursed. So basically, if the deferred payment is 4 weeks then the pay-out starts coming from the 5th week. The insurance company will set a time or the due date before which the claims form is to be submitted to them by the claimant. This varies from company to company.

The time frame of the Income ranges from the age of 18 to the age of 75. The policy maturity plan can range from 3 years to 20 years. The same can be renewed when the maturity period approaches.

There are provisions to increase the insurance amount at the end of a certain time frame by a certain percentage “escalator” amount.

For e.g.  An income protection coverage of €72,000 can be escalated with a premium of 5% at the end its maturity period of 3 years and again by 5 % after 3 more years.

Exclusions and Other Restrictions applicable  

The Medical exclusion criteria to income protection include the following –

  • Pre-existing medical conditions before the insurance approval
  • Any chronic or life-threatening disease like – heart attack, kidney failure, stage 3 cancer and above
  • Self-inflicted wounds
  • Injuries caused by any criminal act
  • Any critical body condition caused by self-neglect of health or addiction to life-threatening substances
  • War-related injuries
  • Normal pregnancy

Among the non-medical exclusions, is loss and lack of a job. This, crystal clear, DOES NOT qualify for income protection. The income protection scheme is initiated with the sole intention to protect those who have an income and the 75% clause is to incentivize employers to return to work.

Multiple policies from different insurance groups are possible but the combined insurance value cannot exceed 75% of the total income.


Selecting the right financial plan and the Insurance Company

As a qualified financial advisor and retirement planner, Adrian Murray has helped countless people set their finances right over a period of 10 years. Adrian and his team are dedicated to providing unbiased financial consultancy to all its clients in planning their entire income and all other coverage needs. We set the balanced mix of coverage schemes and recommend insurance companies based on their standing, the percentage of successful claims from the past financial years, and so on.

We also ensure that the companies we refer follow proper European Community standards and rules. Additionally, our recommended insurance conglomerates adhere to proactive and prompt customer service backed up with round the clock response management.

To know more about Income Protection and get yourself a cover, visit Murray Financial Services at or call 091 740700 now.