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In this article we shall look into the various options for saving for retirement and compare them. Let’s look at the options for building a retirement kitty :

  • Pure debt instruments such as the PPF, NSC and tax-saving FDs . They offer an assured return of around 8% in the long term.
  • Mutual Fund Pension Plans
  • Insurance Pension Plans
  • National Pension Scheme

Mutual Fund Pension Plans

Mutual fund pension plans are those whose objective is to grow your money and provide pension (regular income) during your retirement by redeeming or systematic withdrawal. Currently there are three Mutual Fund Plans:

  • UTI Retirement Pension plan Direct, NonDirect launched in Dec 1994 : invest 40% in equity, mostly into large cap stocks and balance of 60% in debt related instruments
  • Templeton India pension plan (Direct, NonDirect) launched in Mar 1997 : invest 40% in equity, mostly into large cap stocks and balance of 60% in debt related instruments
  • TATA Retirement savings fund offers 3 options
  • Progressive Plan, which invest up to 85% in equity and balance in debt portion.This plan is applicable for an investor up to 45 years of age.
  • Moderate and conservative plan where it invests 0 to 65% in equity and balance in debt related instruments. The moderate plan would be applicable for an investor between 45 years to 58 years of age. After retirement, the plan shifts to conservative mode.

Tax on contribution: At present, except for two schemes-UTI Retirement Benefit Pension Fund and Templeton India Pension Plan-launched in the 1990s, no retirement mutual funds offer Section 80C benefits.

Exit: Exit from such MF pension plans costs heavy for investors. While you go for tax saving options, you have to anyway lock the investments for 3 years lock-in period.

  • For UTI retirement pension plan, if you are choosing to invest without tax saving option and want to redeem these mutual fund investments, you need to pay a hefty cost of 5% within one year and 3% if you withdraw 1-3 years and 1% if you want to redeem after 3 years.
  • For Templeton India pension plan, there is flat 3% exit load up to 58 years of age.
  • Similarly Tata retirement savings fund, there is an exit load of 3% (0-3 years) and 1% after 3 years.

However no exit load is applicable, if you want to take out your investment after 58 years of age for any of the above pension funds

Withdrawal  : All schemes offer a systematic withdrawal plan, where you can redeem at chosen intervals monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or annually for regular income during retirement. These funds are categorised as Non-equity funds so withdrawal are taxed as capital gain.

Mutual fund pension schemes offer a dash of equity, which gives them the potential to offer much higher returns. While pension plans by insurance companies also offer flexible asset allocation, these charge hefty costs in the early stages for this privilege. However, some experts believe that mutual fund pension schemes are nothing more than balanced funds, which provide an exposure to both debt and equity, and can be easily replicated by investors on their own MoneyControl Pension Plans.

Mutual Fund Pension Plans

Mutual Fund Pension Plans

Pension  Insurance Plans

Pension plans, also referred to as retirement plans, are offered by insurance companies to have a regular income stream or pension after retirement. Pension plans are distinct from life insurance plans, which are taken to cover risk in case of an unfortunate event.

  • Life insurance plans aim at covering the risk from an unfortunate event.
  • Pension plans work on the opposite scenario that if an individual survives beyond an age (retirement age), he will need to provide for himself.

Mostly pension plans do not provide insurance cover.

Pension plans are classified as

  • Immediate annuity plans :  the annuity/pension commences immediately having paid the premium (which is usually a one-time premium). Example LIC’s Jeevan Akshay VI
  • Deferred annuity plans : the annuity/pension does not commence immediately,it is deferred up to a time, which is decided upon by the policyholder.ex: LIC New Jeevan Nidhi Plan
  • As in life insurance plans, Regular premium is paid till the retirement age(called vesting age).
  • The amount paid as premium is also eligible for tax benefits. Premium paid on pension policies can avail tax benefits under Section 80CCC deduction upto Rs.1,00,000. This deduction is within Rs.1,00,000 limit of Section 80C and 80CCD(1)
  • On attaining the retirement age, the policy holder can withdraw some percentage of the maturity amount.Have option to commute(withdraw) up to 1/3rd of the benefit at vesting tax free.  The balance amount is used to purchase an annuity which gives a regular monthly/annual income, which is taxable.
  • The return at the retirement age is likely to be around 6 per cent.

Pension Plans come in 2 variants

Features of Unit Linked Pension Plans (ULLP)

Features of Unit Linked Pension Plans (ULLP)


PPF comes under the THE PUBLIC PROVIDENT FUND ACT, 1968 available at Indiapost’s webpage  THE PUBLIC PROVIDENT FUND ACT, 1968(pdf). Features of PPF are given below.Our post Understanding Public Provident Fund, PPF explains PPF in detail  :

  • PPF works on financial year basis (April 1st – March 31st).
  • The interest rate is around 8% currently 8.80% p.a.
  • You need to deposit a minimum of Rs. 500 per year in a PPF account.
  • Maximum amount which you can deposit in a PPF account is Rs. 100,000. (Earlier limit was Rs 70,000 it was increased to 1 lakh from 1.12.2011 )
  • Deposit amounts should be in multiple of Rs. 5.
  • You can deposit lump sum or multiple installments.
  • Maximum number of installments in a year can not be more than 12.
  • Amount of each installment in a month and also in different years can vary.
  • Ex: In a year one can remit Rs 500 in month of Apr, then 2000 in month of July, 5000 in month of Mar. In the next year one can pay Rs 5000 in month of Jun.
  • Amounts can be deposited in cash, cheque or via demand draft. If you are depositing a cheque or demand draft, then the date of deposit that will appear in your PPF account will be the date of cheque clearance and not the day you present the cheque. Say if you deposit the cheque on the 1st of the month but it fails to clear by the 5th for whatever reasons, you will loose out whole month’s interest
  • Contribution in PPF can be claimed upto 1,lakh per year under section 80C. On maturity the proceeds are tax free.
  • PPF, EPF features

    PPF, EPF features

    Features of Employee Provident Fund 

    An overview of features of EPF is given below . Our article Basics of Employee Provident Fund: EPF, EPS, EDLIS discusses Employee Provident Fund in detail.

    • All salaried individuals working in organizations registered under the Employees Provident Fund Organization, contribute monthly to their Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF).
    • Contribution is made monthly but interest is calculated yearly and added at the end of financial year. So amount accumulated in a year,opening balance, is  opening balance of previous year + contribution throughout the year + interest on the (old opening balance + contribution)
    • Interest earned on EPF is completely tax free. And on retirement maturity proceeds are also not taxed.
    • The EPF interest rate of India is decided by the central government with the consultation of Central Board of trustees. In the past several decades, the interest rate has ranged from 8-12 % of the balances maintained in the fund.
    •  The EPF is split into 3 parts
    • Employees’ Provident Fund contribution
    • Employees’ Deposit Linked Insurance Scheme contribution.
    • Employees’ Pension Scheme contribution.
  • Both employer and employee contribute to EPF :
    • Employee: 12% (of Basic + Dearness Allowance) into EPF from the salary. It can be claimed under section 80C upto a limit of 1 lakh.
    • Employer:
    • 3.67% into EPF
    • 8.33% into EPS
    • 0.5% into EDLIS
    • 1.1% for EPF Administrative Charges
    • 0.01% for EDLIS Administrative Charges

    National Pension Scheme

    NPS instils disciplined retirement planning by putting restriction on withdrawal during the accumulation phase and secondly investing in an annuity plan, it leads to judicious withdrawal in the post-retirement phase. Various features of National Pension Scheme are as follows :

    • Open to all Indian citizens including NRI’s aged between 18-60 yrs.
    • Offers/portability – account can be operated from anywhere in the country.
    • Pension contribution invested by professional Fund Managers PFM’s.
    • Asset allocation flexibility
    • Lowest Fund Management charges
    • Change fund. No Entry and Exit Loads with Transparent Fee Based System.
    • Regulatory efficiency.
    • After subscribers retire at the age of 60, they may choose to purchase an annuity for an amount 40% or greater than it and withdraw the remaining pension wealth in lump sum.
    • Withdrawable facility under Tier-II Account.
    • Tax : Contribution to NPS is tax deductible subject to the Rs. 1 lakh limit. Further, under Section 80CCE, employer’s contribution to the extent of 10% of basic plus DA is tax deductible for the employee over and above the Rs. 1 lakh 80C limit, and also for the employer as it can be shown as a business expense.

    Disadvantages :

    • No guarantee on returns:  The NPS is not a defined benefit plan. It is a defined contribution plan. The returns are market linked and there is no guarantee on returns. You have choice of investing 100% funds in Government securities wherein returns are more or less assured.
    • Restriction on equity exposure: The exposure to equity investment is restricted at 50%
    • Liquidity: There are restrictions on premature withdrawal from Tier I account making the scheme very rigid. There is an option to prematurely withdraw 20% of amount but it leads to closure of account. Even on maturity, only 60% of fund can be withdrawn and the rest is to be compulsorily used to buy an annuity
    • Tax on maturity proceeds : NPS currently comes under the EET (exempt, exempt, tax) regime. Current laws state that the funds will be taxed at withdrawal.Returns from annuity insurance plan obtained after retirement will also be taxed
    Returns of the NPS Scheme

    Quoting from valueresearchonline Tracking the NPS

     To understand the performance of the NPS funds, we segregated them based on the schemes. So, there is the NPS for the Central Government employees, NPS for the 22 states that have adopted it for its employees, the NPS Lite, the NPS for public at large, and also the NPS account which is voluntary. The table indicates the performance of each of the schemes run by specific fund managers and its performance


    Returns from various funds in NPS

    Returns from various funds in NPS scheme

    Comparison of Retirement Options

    Fund Management Cost: Mutual funds can charge up to 2.25% and ULIP Pension plans from life insurers can charge up to 1.35%, NPS charges just 0.25% as fund management fee. There is no fund management cost involved in case of EPF and PPF, as the funds are invested only in Government securities.

    Equity exposure:  There is a 50% cap on equity exposure in case of NPS whereas the EPF,PPF does not allow equity exposure at all. There are no equity exposure restrictions for other pension products.

    Tax implications on Contribution : – NPS, EPF, PPF contributions are eligible for tax deductions under Section 80C up to an limit of Rs. 1 lakh. Contribution to Deferred Pension Plans eligible for tax deductions under Section 80CCC up to an overall limit of Rs. 1 lakh. This deduction is within Rs.1,00,000 limit of Section 80C and 80CCD(1).

    Tax implications on Withdrawal: Maturity proceeds in case of PPF  and EPF (if more than 5 years) are tax free. In case of Deferred Insurance Pension Plans, 33% lump sum withdrawal is tax free, but annuity is not tax free. NPS withdrawals are taxable, annuity is taxable. In case of mutual fund pension products are taxed as Long Term Capital Gains.

    Comparison of the options from Moneyworksforme Is it the best way to plan your retirement is given in the picture below:

    Comparison of retirement schemes : NPS,Pension Plans,EPF,PPF
    Comparison of retirement schemes

    Related Articles :

    We want our Retirement to be time of peaceful enjoyment, grand celebration with family and friends. But this will happen only when you plan those days TODAY. Retirement planning is a much ignored but vital part of managing your personal finances. There are several options available but before choosing it consider:

    • What is the amount I am looking as a monthly pension after retirement? How much I need to invest today?
    • What is my risk appetite in Investment?
    • Do I want to Invest in market linked plan or pure traditional plans?
    • What kind of liquidity, withdrawal I want?

    [poll id=”39″]

    So how are you saving for your retirement? Why did you choose that option? When do you plan to retire?



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