Best Value Pension Plans in Ireland

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Best value pension plans, are those that offer you the right underlying investment options (aligned to risk and ESG preference), coupled with the lowest investment costs, inclusive of setup and ongoing broker advice and support.

If you are already in your employer’s group pension scheme, it’s the job of your employer and the Pension Scheme Trustees to choose and monitor the investment strategy to ensure the best value for money.

However, when it comes to Private Pension Plans, which include; insured Executive Pension Plans (EPPs), Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs), Personal Pensions (PPPs), Personal Retirement Bonds (PRBs), and post retirement Approved Retirement Funds (ARFs), it’s down to you to seek and ensure the best value.


If you’re a company owner/director seeking information on Self-administered Pensions, also known as Small Self-administered Pension Schemes (SSAPS), please see our article on the “demise of costly Self-administered Pension schemes” in Ireland.

If you’re a high net-worth individual wanting to make all your own investment decisions and wish to limit the associated cost, then please visit our article on traditional “Insured Pensions vs. Self-invested Pensions“.

Best Value Pension Insured Plans – Understanding the Charges

Where to start? The key is to make yourself fully aware of the costs associated with your Pension Plan, as together with your investment strategy, it is these long-term charges that will ultimately govern the value of your “Pension Pot”, come retirement!

All pension plans have 3 distinct ongoing charges associated with investing your money, which you should discuss in detail with your chosen financial adviser:

  1. The first is your allocation rate i.e. the percentage that gets invested, each time you make a pension plan contribution, this is best understood as a contribution charge.
  2. The second is the fund manager charge (FMC) an annual fee on your accumulating fund value.
  3. The third and final charge is an advisory charge which is payable to your financial broker or advisor (combined with the FMC to create the AMC).



  • Investment Allocation depends on the AMC, as well as the level of set-up commission paid to your advisor.
  • Fund Manager Charges will vary, depending on plan type. there is a base charge, plus a nominal operational charge dependent on the funds chosen. Passive funds are cheaper than active.
  • Advisor/Broker Charges are arranged as an annual charge that is built into your pension, and can typically cost up to 0.50% PA levied against your total fund value (request and carefully review your intended financial advisor’s terms of business and charges).


Pension Plans Types

PRSA’s are suited to employees where a company pension scheme does not exist, or to the self-employed including owner-directors of small limited companies.

They fall into 2 categories Standard and Non-Standard, with the standard option having a maximum provider FMC of 1.00%, but having fewer investment fund options than a non-standard version.

A PRSA offers the most flexible and transferable individual pension plan type, for both employees and the self-employed. They can accept transfers from most other pension arrangements and be transferred into an employer’s scheme, should you change jobs and wish to do so.

PRSAs are also well worth considering as an alternative to a Master Trust Executive Pension for company directors.

Personal Pensions – An alternative to a PRSA, this plan may offer a lower AMC in comparison with a PRSA but is only really suited to the long-term self-employed and carries a monthly policy fee, not applicable to a PRSA. Although not obliged to do so, a future employer may contribute to your PRSA, whereas an employer can never contribute to a Personal Pension Plan. In summary, a PRSA is a more flexible plan and better suited to the majority of self-employed today.

Personal Retirement Bonds – If you leave an employer pension scheme, you can bring your pension benefits with you, by having the value of your fund invested in a Personal Retirement Bond (PRB). If you’re planning to leave the company that you currently work for and you are part of the group pension scheme, a PRB, could be the right option for you. A PRB may also be suitable if the scheme is winding down.

Master Trust – Executive Plans also called Director Pension Plans are pension plans for directors of limited companies including contractors. These allow the company to foot the bill of funding for the company directors’ retirement, whilst receiving corporation tax relief. The directors themselves can also make personal contributions with full PAYE tax relief. These plan types are subject to strong regulatory and audit rules and must be set up under Trust.

Post Retirement – Approved Retirement Funds – An ARF allows you to invest all, or part of your pension fund after you retire. You can decide on the type of fund you would like to invest in, together with the amount of risk you’re comfortable with. With an ARF you can make withdraws on a regular, or ad hoc basis, although once you reach age 61 you must withdraw a minimum of 4% each year.

Low-Cost Pension Plans – Ireland

Now that you have a better understanding of how pension charging works, I have set out below the best value base AMC charging structures on offer, on regular payment pension contracts through One Quote Financial Brokers.

We offer 100% investment allocation, with a 0.25% PA broker charge, with no arrangement fee.

Advice Based – Pension Charges

Fund Management Charge (FMC):

  • From 0.50% PA on ARFs.
  • From 0.60% PA on PRBs.
  • From 0.75% PA on Personal Pensions (RAC contracts).
  • From 1.00% PA on Master Trust – Executive Pension Plans.
  • 1.00% PA on Non-Standard PRSAs (max fund choice).



Non-standard PRSAs offer an advantage over Standard PRSAs in that they provide greater fund choices, yet we keep the FMC at 1.00% and grant 100% allocation.

Key Take Aways

If you already have an existing pension contract or are about to set one up, be careful of any financial advisor who recommends lifestyle funds (automatic high to low-risk investment with increasing age) and then includes a service charge added to the FMC.

Never accept a broker service charge of 0.50% PA, the typical market charge.

Check out your advisor’s investment advisory credentials from the start. Not all financial advisors carry the same experience or qualifications.

If you not getting proper risk management advice on setup and throughout your pension to include detailed annual reviews, ask how the financial support charge is justified.

One Quote Financial Brokers provide a no-fee, no-obligation discussion on your pension requirements and will outline the best value pension plans on offer (including a free audit of your existing plan), so why not call us directly on: 01 8450049.

Ken O’Gorman – QFA, SIA, MCIBS ​

Phone: +353 (0)1 845 0049 | Mob +353 87 665 8516 – Smart Pension Planning

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