Approved Retirement Funds (ARFs)

Get expert unbiased ARF advice from Ireland's ARF specialists, delivering cost-effective, risk-managed ARFs.

Post Retirement

Approved Retirement Funds (ARFs)

Approved Retirement Funds (ARFs), are post-retirement investment plans, where you can invest your pension fund, having taken your tax-free lump sum. You then make regular withdrawals to provide an income, whilst seeking to preserve capital by way of the underlying ARF investment.

Approved Retirement Fund

Post Retirement

Expert ARF Planning

It is hugely important to get impartial retirement advice, and in choosing an ARF, to minimise the associated ARF charges, and in particular the base underlying Annual Management Charge (AMC). We've been advising ARF investors since 2008 and have the expertise to deliver true peace of mind.

Our comprehensive ARF planning and advisory services, offer a full market comparison to clearly display your best value ARF investment options, aligned to your risk tolerance, thereby supporting your ARFs investment growth for the long-term.

Approved Retirement Fund

Post Retirement

Tailored ARF Solutions

Our low-cost, bespoke ARF investment solutions, involve the construction of diversified client portfolios, spanning several asset classes and investment managers for more robust risk management.

This includes the full implementation and monitoring of a long-term investment plan, which we oversee.

You will receive an annual review and full online access, but otherwise, once your ARF is set up, you can relax into enjoying your retirement, knowing that you're in good hands.

Financial Advice at Retirement - Annuity Option

Post Retirement

ARF Regular Income

An ARF allows you to invest all, or part of your pension fund after you retire. With our help, you decide on the type of funds that you would like to invest in, together with the amount of risk that you’re comfortable with.

With an ARF you can withdraw as much as you wish, should you ever need to, with a minimum annual withdrawal amount that is dependent on your age.

Once you have taken your minimum withdrawal, you can take any additional income as you need it. Any withdrawals you take from your ARF will be subject to income tax, the Universal Social Charge, and PRSI (if you are liable for this).

PRSI is no longer payable after age 66, if you're already in receipt of the State Pension, otherwise PRSI ends at age 70 and the USC rate also reduces from age 70. The investment firm holding your investment will make these deductions at the source prior to transferring your ARF withdrawal payments to your bank account.

Questions & Answers

Approved Retirement Funds - FAQ's

All you need to know about Approved Retirement Funds (ARFs).

An Approved Retirement Fund or ARF, is a post-retirement investment plan, where you can invest all or part of your pension fund after taking your tax-free lump sum on pension benefit drawdown, including early retirement.

ARFs offer increased flexibility in terms of how you use your pension fund, as once your fund is invested, you can make withdrawals as often as you wish. Most people will look to preserve the original capital amount for as long as possible and do so, by taking a minimum regular income amount of 4% from age 61 and 5% from age 71.

ARF income withdrawals are subject to income tax, PRSI, and Universal Social Charge (USC).

Any money left in the fund after your death, can be left to your next of kin, and it can pass tax-free to your spouse.

If you have a Company Pension, PRSA or Personal Retirement Bond from previous employment, you can generally access a lump-sum from age 50, and leave the balance be invested and to grow tax-free in an ARF.

At age 61 when you must start drawing an income at a minimum required level of 4% PA.

If you were a member of a Defined Benefit (DB) occupational pension scheme, then an ARF may only be suited in special circumstances and will need to include Trustee approval.

Through an ARF, you can invest your pension pot in a wide range of assets like stocks, bonds, property, commodities, and cash. The underlying investments you choose depend on the level of risk that you are comfortable with and your financial goals. The key to choosing the right investment is to get specialist ARF advice, to ensure to appropriate risk strategy is applied in the construction of your ARF fund portfolio.

After taking your cash lump sum (some or all of which may be tax-free), you can choose to invest the remaining  pension monies in an ARF. The process involves investment risk profiling, before constructing a long-term ARF investment strategy. This option can be accessed at retirement or from age 50, if you have previously left the employment associated with the pension plan in question.

The firm who looked after your employers pension scheme, will tell you that it will be quicker and easier to use them for your ARF, but in truth, the process will be no faster. In fact, existing brokers tend to offer less value, than if you’re seeking independent financial advice, choosing a financial broker, to compare the market on your behalf. 

With the help of your financial broker, you firstly need to establish your investment risk tolerance and ESG preferences.

Notably, from age 61 you must make minimum withdrawals of 4% per annum, so this must be accounted for.

Once the above parameters are established, you should choose a well-diversified portfolio of funds designed to meet your return expectations, whilst being fully cognisant of cost and volatility, and not just past performance.

There is no single investment fund manager or fund, to suit every ARF investor, age as well as investment risk tolerance, other assets, and ESG, must also be considered. 

That said, a 50-year-old ARF investor may choose higher risk funds, at least initially, than someone arranging their ARF from age 60 or older, as withdrawals must commence form age 61.

The most important thing is not to put all your eggs in one basket and not to chase high returns, without being clear about both volatility and cost impact.

The key thing is to diversify across different asset classes (asset allocation) and then to allow the fund managers to further diversify within these asset classes.

This typically means using  what are called multi-asset mutual funds, because of their low costs, A medium risk ESMA 4 portfolio, is the most typical approach (although every mu ARF investor must be assessed individually).

ARF charges play a huge part in the performance of your ARF, and high charges will negatively impact on its investment performance and on your ARF funds longevity.

Typically a broker or advisor may charge a once-off set-up fee, especially if more than one source of transfer is occurring. After which, a single annual charge will be levied against your total ongoing ARF fund value, known as the total AMC or full annual management charge.

It pays to shop around as total AMCs, typically vary between 1.00% and 1.50% PA, depending on your choice of funds and choice of a financial advisor. 

We charge our clients a built-in annual fee of just 0.25% of their ARF fund value (regardless of the ARF fund size) levied directly from the ARF. The fund charge can vary between 0.50% PA and 0.75% PA, so you can expect a total AMC of 0.75% to a max of 1.00% PA , with 100% minimum investment allocation.

This refers to the way in which your income is paid to you from your ARF.

  • From the year you turn 61, tax is payable on a minimum withdrawal amount each year of 4% of the value of the fund at that date. This withdrawal is liable to income tax, Universal Social Charge and PRSI (if you are liable for this). From the year you turn 71 the minimum withdrawal is increased to 5%.
  • Where a greater withdrawal is made during the year, tax will be paid on the greater withdrawal amount. The minimum withdrawal rate is set in line with the required imputed distribution amount which may be altered to reflect changes in legislation. You can choose to take a higher withdrawal amount if you wish. 

An ARF is a post-retirement product, that is designed to provide an income for you in retirement, that can only accept transfers from existing pension arrangements. 

So, whilst you can’t make regular contributions, you can top it up, with other retirement funds or by transferring other existing ARFs into it.

You can transfer all your residual (post lump sum) retirement pension benefits, into a single or multiple ARFs. But we would not normally recommend this in the case of defined benefit scheme benefits.

This includes:

  • The value of Additional Voluntary Contributions (‘AVCs’) at retirement not taken as a lump sum.
  • The value of a Retirement Annuity Contract (‘RAC’) or Personal Retirement Savings Account (‘PRSA’) or Retirement Bond not taken as a lump sum.
  • The value of assets transferred from another ARF held by you (or your deceased spouse).
  • The value of pension assets transferred to you under the terms of a court order.

There is a minimum income you must take from your ARF each year, which is dependent on your age. If your ARF is under €2 million, you must withdraw:

4% of the value of your fund, if you are over 60.
5% of the value of your fund, if you are over 70.

If your ARF exceeds €2 million, you must take out 6% of the value of your fund each year.

Once you are over age 60 and have taken your minimum withdrawal, you can take any additional income as you need it. If you are under age 60 there are no minimum nor maximum withdrawal limits.

This imputed distribution is applicable to ARF holders who are 60 or over for the full tax year. Actual distributions made during the year from the ARF may be deducted from the imputed distribution to arrive at the net imputed amount, if any, to be regarded as a distribution.

If an ARF-holder is survived by a spouse or civil partner, then there are no tax implications on the passing of the ARF to the surviving spouse, to be then transferred into their name. However, the new owner will pay income tax on any withdrawals from the ARF.

Where a child has not attained 21 years of age; ARF monies inherited will be subject to inheritance tax at 33%, should their overall inheritaces exceed their CAT tax-free threshold.

Where a child has attained 21 years of age; ARF monies inherited will be subject to a once-off income tax deduction at 30% and this will not affect their CAT tax-free threshold in respect of othe inheritances.

An ARF paid to anybody else (other than a Surviving Spouse or Children) then Income Tax at source and CAT apply.

There are many reasons you may be unhappy with your existing ARF. These can be:

  • Excessive Fees
  • Poor or erratic Investment Performance
  • Poor or no Communication from the ARF Provider / Insurance Company
  • Poor or no Communication from your Financial Advisor
  • Lack of expertise from your Financial Advisor

If this is the case, you can transfer the agency form your existing financial advisor to a newly appointed one. Then, your new advisor can alter the underlying portfolio as appropriate, as well as outline a service level agreement, to probably meet your expectations. 

An ARF is designed to automatically provide your with a regular income from age 61 onwards, but you are entitled to make additional withdrawals as and when you require.

However, long term management of your ARF, considering not only the possibility of bleeding your ARF dry much too early, but also managing the tax payable on your withdrawals is imperative, and this should be discussed with an impartial financial advisor at set-up.

A properly appointed financial advisor, will automatically review your ARF annually to check both its investment performance and the impact of withdrawals to ensure that its kept-on track to match your requirements.

It is also important to understand that you can never take a tax-free lump sum from an ARF at any point, and that all withdrawals will be subject to your marginal rate of income tax.

At the point of setting up an ARF however, if you are existing an Occupational Pension Scheme, Executive Pension Plan, PRSA or Personal Retirement Bond on leaving that employment you can, from age 50, take a 25% tax-free lump form those plans proceeds prior to investing the balance in an ARF.

When you’re ready to drawdown your retirement benefits, having taken your tax-free lumps sum, the traditional alternative to investing in an ARF, is to buy an Annuity, which is a regular pension payment for life. However since the Finance Act 2023, those with PRSAs can now choose to take their lump sum and leave the balance in their PRSA to vest at age 75, from when withdrawals must be taken each year (imputed distribution then applies).

To find out more about this alternative please visit retirement annuities, where you can also read about their advantages and disadvantages.

Whereas all investing carries a level of risk, ARFs also offer much more flexibility than the alternative annuity option, as well as full tax-free inheritance between spouses. The key is to diversify to manage risk and review your situation annually, with the help of your financial advisor.

It’s important to understand that annuity rates are dependent on long-dated bond rates, which are influenced by interest rates, so annuity rates need to be high at the time of purchasing an annuity, to offer any real value.

Remember also,  if you go the ARF route you can still return to the annuity route down the road, but once you’ve purchase your annuity that’s it.


Google Reviews

Our ARF client feedback through reviews.

Eithne Murray
ARF - Value & Service
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My accountant recommended Ken at One Quote, to advise me on investing my retirement funds. His advice was prompt, efficient and great value, plus the ongoing support is superb.
Paul Ancker
Superb Service
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One Quote exceeded the value on offer from other financial brokers, but also took the time to understand and address my specific investment needs, offering a highly personalised service.
Mary Mc Mahon
Truly Professional
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It was a pleasure to deal with Ken at One Quote Financial Brokers. He provides a truly professional and great value service, with detailed investment advice and guidance e that you can trust.
Paula B. Walsh
Highly Recommend
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I approached One Quote for the best value options on reinvesting my retirement funds. I set up an ARF, together with a separate lump sum investment, and would highly recommend them.

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