In the first edition of Irish Building Magazine, we look at the year ahead and what it might hold.

This time last year, we wrote about a new decade with the start of 2020 and looked forward to what the next decade might hold. Who knew back then how drastically life would change for us? While many still face into another year of economic uncertainty in 2021, we still firmly believe that planning for your future should still include planning for your retirement.

Life in Circles, Not Lines

Should we fall on hard times, many of us would only be able to live off our savings for a few months (some of us have had to this year). In retirement, we can look forward to living 20 to 30 years. The question is, how long will our savings sustain us? While most of us will receive a pension from the State, this will only secure a basic standard of living and that may differ to the vision of ‘living’ we have imagined.

People often view time as linear. We see it as one-dimensional and narrow, expecting everything to happen in a sequence after which a result neatly appears. By definition, linear living has an endpoint – a finish line. Retirement is not that finish line, nor is it an endpoint. In fact, it is the start of another cycle. It goes through evolving stages that change with time. This circular (as opposed to linear) living requires us to sustain it and the best place to start is a pension. Retirement should not be the end of something, but a point in your life cycle when work becomes optional and you look forward to a future of possibilities.

Your definition of ‘life’ may differ from what the State Pension Offers

The current working population makes the existing State pension possible. According to the National Risk Assessment in 2019, the share of the population aged 65 and over is projected to increase from one in eight to one in six by 2030 and the number of people aged 85 and over, is projected to almost double.

This is an acute concern for government strategists as they struggle to project a sustainable State pension into the future. Furthermore, while Ireland has a comparatively young population relative to other EU countries, it nevertheless faces the same long-term challenges as the rest of the continent with an ageing population. While we are happy to live longer lives, this does put inevitable strain on the healthcare system. As it stands, according the National Risk Register, 60% of those aged over 50 report having at least one chronic condition.

Whether you are 5, 15 or 50 years from retirement age, saving just a small proportion of your salary can help you achieve your dreams in retirement, but most of all, provide you with much needed financial stability. Every January, we look at the year ahead and try to imagine what it might hold. Due to the pandemic and subsequent uncertainty, it is hard to envisage the future, especially our retirement, which might be years away. However, that is exactly what we are asking you to do and, on a State pension alone, that future looks bleak.

The State pension is not designed to provide for your desired future. Its purpose is to ensure a basic standard of living for all retirees nationally. It does not take into account your location, your assets, any chronic health conditions or additional requirements that involve significant investment.

It Pays to Save

No matter how you break it down, pensions can make for complicated reading. However, the basic idea is simple. Pensions are long-term savings plans that benefit from generous tax relief on contributions (subject to Revenue limits) and grow over time to provide you with sufficient income when you decide to retire. Pensions never cost as much as you think, thanks to tax relief on contributions you make (subject to Revenue limits). For example, if you are on the higher rate of tax and contribute just €100 per week to your pension, this will cost you just €60, thanks to the tax relief you will receive.

Pensions, not products

CPAS is the pension scheme administrator for pensions in the construction sector. We do not look at pensions as products, but as the development of strategies, recognising your needs now and into the future. We work with our members to identify a clear vision for the future, achievable goals and then work with them to create a plan of action that they can implement today. It is about providing the right information today to help them make the most of their future.

As in life, there are many variables and changes. Planning for retirement involves forming expectations about income and expenses over the rest of your life, based on present assumptions. Our pension consultants help you cut through the complicated jargon and plan for your future in the long term.

For more information, please get in touch with our team of consultants who can provide more information (

In the latest edition of the Irish Building Magazine, we outlined our belief that retirement is not the end of something, but a point in your life when work becomes optional and you look forward to a future of possibilities. You can read the full article here.

105 Years Old

January is the month when the internet is awash with all sorts of ‘top tips’ for saving money, maximising money, saving tax and any other goals that are linked to the New Year. However, it was an article about babies born in 2021 who are now expected to live until 105 years of age that caught our attention as pension providers. While this impressive age is something to celebrate, it struck a chord about how long our pension savings are expected to last. If you retire at 65 and live until 105, will your pension pot last for 40 years covering you through illness, home repairs, a replacement car and everything else in between?

Financial reviews are important and if 2020 proved anything, it is best to act now to protect against the unexpected. Now is the time to review your finances and look forward to a better year in 2021. For those who plan to retire in the future (i.e. all of us), we think you should start by reviewing your pension.

Why start with my pension?

Pensions are often one of the most valuable assets a person will ever own, so with that in mind, you should start by reviewing your annual pension statement. Even if you only read one or two sections of your statement, it should give you the majority of the information you need and will reveal whether you should be keeping things as they are or look to improve matters. These are four key actions you can take:

  • Complete an “Expression of Wish” form: If you die before you retirement, there could be a substantial payout through your pension scheme. This information will provide the Trustees with guidance regarding whom you would wish to receive this benefit in the event of your untimely death. Contact your pension provider for the relevant form.
  • Consider Charges and Fees: You may think that 100% of your contribution to your pension scheme goes into your pension pot. Not so in many cases. Where the administrative fees are not clear, it is worthwhile reading the small print. In the case of the Schemes administered by CPAS, your full contribution goes into your fund. We can afford to do this as we are a not-for-profit provider. This ensures we are 100% focused on making sure your funds are maximising their earning potential and every cent of your contribution stays in your fund, working for you.
  • Review Investment Choice: As you get closer to retirement age, it’s vital to consider where your pension fund money is invested and is this investment appropriate for your age and risk appetite. For example, does your fund automatically take steps to reduce your investment risk as you get closer to retirement? What happens if you plan to defer retirement for a period of years? Is this approach the right strategy for you? Are you planning to take an annuity or invest in an approved retirement fund (ARF) when you reach retirement age? There are many choices available to you and you should ensure your money is placed in the most suitable fund for your projected needs.
  • Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs): AVCs are a great way to boost your retirement savings if you are concerned about your current contribution levels. Going back to our advice about reading your benefit statement, this statement should give you an indication of the estimated income you will receive at retirement. If this is lower that you would like, then paying more to your pension account through AVCs is how you will improve this outcome. If you have money sitting in a current account or low interest bearing accounts, perhaps this is cash better spent securing your future retirement income – by investing it in your pension as an AVC. And the real clincher is that you can avail of up to 40% in tax relief on AVCs, which is particularly attractive if you are in the higher tax bracket.

A Closing Thought for the Start of the New Year and Goal Setting

When setting your financial goals, remember to be realistic. Take time to make small, achievable financial solutions you can work towards. You can’t spend what you don’t have, but maximise what you do. At a minimum, you should ascertain your end goals. Many of us will want to retire on at least 50% of our annual income and so, you must ask yourself, how much do I need to have saved at retirement age in order to achieve this level of income? Based on a current income of €48,000 and assuming you wish to retire on €24,000, (the State pension is currently €12,912), we estimate a requirement of €300,000 to bridge the gap. How much will you need? Are you are on track to achieve this goal?

CPAS is the scheme administrator for pensions in the construction sector. We work with Members to develop a clear vision for the future and identify achievable goals before working with them to create a plan of action that they can implement today. For help planning your future, contact a member of our team via info [at]


Divorce, similar to death or taxes, may not be a popular talking point, but when you are faced with this reality, it is worth understanding what is involved in relation to your pension entitlements.

In 1995, the Irish public voted to legalise divorce. A year later, it was written into law. While the rates of divorce have been increasing in recent years, we still have one of the lowest rates of divorce in the world. The crude divorce rate in Ireland is 0.6% a year for every 1,000 people, compared with 1.9% for the UK and 3.2% for the US*.

Why your Divorce will end up in Court.

Did you know that after the family home, a pension is often the most valuable asset a separating couple have? The Family Law Act 1995 and the Family Law (Divorce) Act 1996 enable Courts to share out pension rights between separating and divorcing couples.

Regardless of how amicable a separation, pension rights can only be divided by a Court Order. This system can sometimes be seen as complicated. As a result, couples opt to focus on the other assets and leave the pension alone, thereby negating the need for Court intervention. A spouse, a civil partner or a qualified cohabitant (subject to meeting certain conditions) can apply for a Pension Adjustment Order “PAO” at the end of a relationship. For the purposes of this article, I will refer to spouse but the information also applies to civil partners and qualified cohabitants.

Divorce and Pensions – The Process

At the beginning of the process, each spouse is required to give particulars of his/her property and income to the other spouse and this information will include full detail in relation to a member’s benefit under a pension scheme.

After consideration of this information, the Court may serve an order (known as a pension adjustment order or PAO), on the Trustees of the pension scheme of which either spouse is a member. This PAO can require the Trustees to pay a portion of the pension benefits to the other spouse or for the benefit of a dependent member of the family. The PAO requires that the Trustees pay a specified part of the retirement benefits or contingent benefits to the person(s) named in the order.

PAOs may be made in respect of the following pension arrangements:

  • Occupational Pension Schemes, in relation to retirement benefits and any contingent benefits (i.e., benefits payable on death in service). This can apply to a current pension scheme or a pension scheme of which you were formally a member.
  • Additional Voluntary Contributions (AVCs).
  • Personal Retirement Savings Accounts (PRSAs).
  • Retirement Annuity Contracts (RACs) including Trust RACs.
  • Buy out Bonds/Personal Retirement Bonds.

It is important to note that a separate PAO is required for each separate pension arrangement in your name. In addition, benefits payable under the Social Welfare Acts and disability benefits arising under an Income Protection policy are not considered pension benefits in the context of the legislation.

Divorce and Pensions – Your Options

Following the making of the PAO, the pension scheme Trustees will notify the person in whose favour the order is made. The Trustees will inform the person the amount and nature of the retirement benefits and/or contingent benefits designated under the order.

How Benefits are Calculated?

Firstly, the Court will rule on two key factors determining the amount. These are the “relevant period” and the “relevant percentage”. The relevant period may refer to the period of and can not be later than the date of granting the decree of judicial separation or divorce. This means future benefits can not be shared.

This information will also include the option of a transfer value that may be available in lieu of keeping the benefit under the existing pension scheme. For example, a PAO may be outlined as follows:

  • The period of reckonable service over which the designated benefit is deemed to have accrued, is the period commencing on 1st January 2005 and ending on 1st January 2015.
  • The relevant percentage of the Retirement Benefits accrued over the Designated Period and to be paid to the Beneficiary is 50%.

In the example shown, the spouse (who is not a member of the pension scheme), will get 50% of the benefit which the member earned in the ten year period shown. The formula for calculating the benefit due will differ depending on whether the pension scheme is defined benefit or defined contribution. In either case, the spouse who has been awarded the PAO will be offered a transfer value. They may also be given the option of establishing an independent benefit within the member’s pension scheme.

Considering remarriage?

There are some considerations when remarrying. These are:

  • The Court will not make a PAO if the spouse who applies for it has remarried.
  • If a PAO in relation to retirement benefits is made, this will be unaffected by a subsequent change in marital status of either spouse.
  • A PAO in relation to contingent benefits (benefits payable on death in service) cease to have effect if the spouse who is not a member remarries.

Impact of a Member Retirement on the Spouse.

If the member spouse retires and the spouse who benefited from a PAO has not transferred their benefit to another pension arrangement or has not established an independent benefit, the non-member spouse must also retire. A PAO must also be considered at retirement in relation to Standard Fund Thresholds and Tax Free Lump Sum payments.

Standard Fund Thresholds: When calculating a member’s threshold limit (currently €2 million), the member’s entitlement is calculated as the total value they would have received if a PAO was never made. If this calculation puts the member over the Threshold, the chargeable excess tax liability is divided between the member and the non-member spouse on a pro-rata basis.

Tax free lump sum: Subject to Revenue regulations, there are formulas for calculating the lump payable to a member on retirement. Currently, up to €200,000 of this lump sum can be paid tax free. Where a PAO exists, there is a separate €200,000 limit for the member spouse and the non-member spouse.

Divorce – A Conclusion

Pensions and divorce can be complex. The outline above offers some brief pointers but every situation is different. It is important that all parties involved are fully aware of all the various conditions and details involved. The Pensions Authority** have information on their website, offering a 46 page “brief” guide to the pension provisions of the Family Law Acts. In the event of an imminent separation or divorce, it is important to seek independent financial advice, in addition to legal expertise.

If you are going through a separation or divorce, our team can help. Simply send us an email ( we will be in touch. For financial advice, we recommend the financial consultants in Milestone Advisory DAC. The team in Milestone Advisory offer financial advice with a focus on the construction and related sectors.

Planning and Engineering

In October, the Construction Industry Federation ran another successful Construction Safety Week. This week each year serves as a reminder about the health & safety of everyone involved in Construction.  The message is ultimately about providing people with all of the relevant information available to enable them to protect themselves. Protecting your finances is something to be mindful of also. The way to protect your finances is to save for the future and to insure against the unexpected.  It is that simple.  It is complicated because there are so many options available to people, but hopefully this piece alleviate some of the confusion.

Saving for the future.

A pension is simply a long-term savings policy with tax relief.  It is the most tax efficient way to save for the future.  If you have access to pension scheme, rejoice!

Life Cover

If you have purchased your own home, you will likely have Mortgage Protection and this is indeed a type of Life Cover.  Mortgage Protection will pay off any outstanding balance on your mortgage if you die and it is designed to decrease as your mortgage decreases.  This is all it is for however, nothing else is covered!  If you have dependants then mortgage protection alone simply is not enough.  Death before old age is an unlikely occurrence, but it happens nonetheless and while we cannot live our lives expecting the worst – we can be financially prepared for it.

Income Protection

Income Protection is an insurance policy that pays your income in the event that you become ill or are injured.  It can pay you until you recover, or until you retire.  I often talk about longevity when I am talking about pensions, i.e. the fact that people are living longer and so the increased need for income in retirement.

From age 65, men can expect to live an average of 23.8 years, while women can look forward to an average of 25.3 years.  While this has an impact on saving for your retirement, it also means that during your working life, being diagnosed with a serious illness is a greater risk to you than death.  The Life Assurance industry claims experience tells us that you are likelier to suffer from Cancer, a Heart Attack or a Stroke before you retire than you are to die before age 65.  In my opinion, Income Protection is one of the most important insurances you can have to protect your finances.

Specified Illness

This is also known as Serious Illness cover.  Why consider serious illness cover? It pays out a cash lump sum if you are diagnosed with an illness from one of the many serious illnesses covered by the plan – illnesses such as Cancer, a Heart Attack, or a Stroke (subject to policy terms and conditions).  This cash lump sum would help remove some of the financial and emotional stress associated with a serious illness, affording you the opportunity to take the time off work, to help pay for specialist medical treatment or even to help cover day-to-day household bills such as childcare.  It may also be used to pay off debts while you are recovering.  If you are diagnosed with a serious illness you have enough to worry about, making ends meet should be the least of your concerns.

Do you need cover?

You should establish what exactly you would do if you were hit by illness or injury.  You should quantify how long your income would continue and how far your savings would stretch. If you do not have any cover in place, and your savings are not enough for you, you might consider reviewing your needs with your financial adviser.


Susan O’Mara, Financial Services Consultant with Milestone Advisory 

For further information please contact Susan O’Mara at: or phone: 01-4068020

Milestone Advisory DAC t/a Milestone Advisory is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland


We are all aware that there continues to be a shortage of skilled labour in the construction sector and employers are finding it difficult to attract and retain staff.  Employers realise that to try to attract staff they need to be creative and have launched a number of different initiatives.  However, beyond these initiatives, prospective employees will always turn their attention to the benefits on offer when deciding whether to join a company. Read more

In this edition of Irish Building Magazine, we look forward to a New Year, a new decade and what might the future the hold in the pensions’ world.

It doesn’t seem that long ago since we celebrated the arrival of the new century and now we are into the 3rd decade of that century – time marches relentlessly on. As we settle into 2020 maybe now is a good time to reflect on the impact that time has had on our lives and to consider the future and what it may hold for us, in the pension’s world anyway!

Normally, around this time of year we ponder on changes we can make in our daily lives and if you do not have a pension plan then maybe starting one could be one of your better New Year Resolutions. You may not feel that you need to save for your retirement but here’s 3 things to consider – The State Pension amount, service gaps and longer life expectancy.

The State Pension

Firstly, think of your annual take home pay which you currently live on. Now, compare that figure to €12,912. Could you live on this amount a year? That’s the maximum State Pension amount for a single person. Will this amount enable you to do all those things on your bucket list that you’ve planned for when you’re finished work? I’ve heard the drop in income from the time you are working to the day you go on to state benefits being described as falling off a cliff. Not a pleasant image and certainly something we all want to avoid if we can.

Service Gaps

During your career, have you already or do you plan to take a break for one reason or another? Maternity or paternity leave, home care, rearing of children? This can affect state pension entitlements and can also reduce the number of years you have to save towards your retirement.

Longer Life Expectancy

On a positive note, our life expectancy is increasing; 50% of those born today are expected to live to 100. And indeed some of our CPAS pensioners are over the age of 100 with the oldest being 105! As well as this, the state pension age is increasing and will be age 68 by 2028. While living longer can be good news, what this also means is that our savings have to stretch further and last a lot longer. That €12,912 a year just isn’t going to cut it.

Tax Incentives

The government want us to save for retirement so what incentives have they given us? Often going unnoticed because people pay pension contributions from their salary at source, the tax break on pension contributions is one of the most generous available from the Revenue. Tax relief is available at your marginal rate of tax and the table below shows you the net cost of a €100 pension contribution based on your current rate of tax.

And the tax breaks don’t stop there.

Employer contributions receive corporation tax relief as they are offset against profits before tax and they are not added to employee’s salary as a Benefit in Kind. Investment growth on pension fund savings is tax free and at retirement, members can receive a sizeable amount of their fund as a lump sum also tax free (subject to Revenue maximum limits). Annual pension income is subject to tax under the PAYE system but as a pensioner the tax allowances are generous.

Next Steps

Now is the time for the construction sector to make a difference to the future of all their employees through pension savings. CPAS can facilitate this on the same terms as site workers through the Construction Workers Pension Scheme or we can design a bespoke arrange for individual employers and members through the Construction Executive Retirement Savings (CERS).

This year CPAS are delighted to be a sponsor of the ICE Awards 2020 and as the providers of choice for the construction industry we are proud to see that over 90% of the Award nominee companies are clients of ours. CPAS talk your language so don’t hesitate to call us today and we can get you started! You can call Paula on (01) 407 1429 or email

We mean two things when we talk about planning for retirement.  The first plan is to set up a pension scheme, either a personal pension or participation in your employer sponsored occupational pension scheme.  Then you will need to regularly contribute, throughout your working life with the aim of accumulating a pot of money, which you can then use to replace your salary when you retire. Read more

It may be well established at this stage that CPAS are considered to be the pension provider of choice for the construction sector, however, it has become quite clear to us in recent times that some might consider the ‘construction sector’ to include only those who work on sites, so we ask the question; are pension savings only for site workers?

Since the introduction of the Sectoral Employment Order (SEO) last year, and the conversations around the #BuildingEquality campaign including the gender pay/pension gaps, we’ve had many discussions with company owners and office staff regarding their own pension provision. These conversations usually take place when they contact us to set up or discuss their site workers’ pensions or when we are arranging site visits to give toolbox talks to their employees in the Construction Workers Pension Scheme (CWPS).

The team at CPAS receive regular phone calls from office staff who manage the pensions for their site workers but they never consider their own savings for retirement. When we ask them about their own pension savings we regularly hear ‘I don’t work on site’, ‘I didn’t think office staff could be included’, ‘I wouldn’t know how to go about it’. It should be said loud and clear – CPAS have a pension solution for the entire workforce in the construction industry.

This includes office staff and management, not just those who work on site. From a survey in 2017, it was found that only a third of private-sector workers in Ireland have a pension plan. Furthermore, 60% of those without pension savings said they don’t actually know how to start one. If you are one of the two thirds who do not have a pension plan in place and think you don’t need to save for your retirement, I give you three points to consider – the State pension amount, service gaps and longer life expectancy.


Firstly, think of your annual take home pay which you currently live on. Now, compare that figure to €12,652. Do you think you can you live on this amount a year? This is the current maximum State pension amount. Will this amount enable you to do all those things on your bucket list that you’ve planned for when you’re finished work?

During your career, have you already or do you plan to take a break for one reason or another? Maternity or paternity leave, home care, rearing of children or just a career break to travel? If you do, this can affect your State pension entitlements and can also reduce the number of years you have to save towards your retirement.

On a positive note, our life expectancy is increasing; 50% of those born today are expected to live to 100. Indeed some of our CPAS members in receipt of a monthly pension have reached the age of 100 with the oldest being 105! As well as this, the state pension age is increasing and will rise to 68 by 2028. While living longer is good news, this also means that our savings will have to stretch further and last a lot longer. Will €12,652 a year be enough?

Taking these points into consideration, it makes perfect sense that everybody who works should be saving towards their retirement. Indeed,the government have issued a Roadmap for Pensions 2018 to 2023 where they are looking to make pension savings mandatory in the next 4 to 5 years.

With the introduction of the Construction SEO in October 2017 and the Mechanical SEO in March 2018, the construction sector have taken the lead in providing pension cover for their workers covered by these SEOs but let’s not forget about all the other workers in the construction sector who may not come under the cover of the SEOs. Now is the time for the construction sector to make a difference to the future of all their employees through pension savings.

CPAS can facilitate this on the same terms as site workers through the Construction Workers Pension Scheme (CWPS) or we can design bespoke pension arrangements for individual employers and members through the Construction Executive Retirement Savings (CERS). For self-employed individuals in the construction sector without pension cover we can also provide cover through the Construction Industry Retirement Trust (CIRT). As the pension provider of choice for the construction sector CPAS knows your industry, so don’t hesitate to call us today and we can get you started!

If you have a pension plan do you read and understand your annual benefit statement? If you don’t here’s some free advice!

In Milestone Advisory, I spend the majority of my time with clients who are approaching retirement or who have already reached this particular milestone.  This part of the financial lifecycle is about taking stock of what you have already accumulated in pension funds and how to maximise its benefits into the future.

Often, it is not until this point that people look for advice around their retirement planning.

I met a couple recently who were decidedly different. They “hadn’t a clue” about pensions, but they had both recently turned 50 and felt they needed some help. While both had accumulated pension funds over the course of their working lives, they did not know what these funds meant for their financial future.

At the end of this particular meeting, I felt that the information I provided and explained was the sort of information everyone needs:  So, here it is – for free.

Both of my clients, having been in pension schemes since their early 30’s felt “that box was ticked”.  This might once have been true; if you joined a company in your early 20’s and stayed there until your 65th birthday with a pension promise of 2/3rds your final salary.  However, defined benefit pensions, where your income in retirement was defined at the outset are no longer the standard type of pension.  Nor is staying with one employer for life.  Now, the vast majority of all pensions are defined contribution i.e. the only thing defined is the pension contribution being invested.

Annual benefit statement 

In this case, you will need to understand what the contributions will translate to in income terms when you retire.  This is where your annual benefit statement comes in.  Each year, your provider will send you such a statement, outlining the contributions that have been paid in along with the current value of your fund.  It will also lay out a set of figures that show you the value of your income in retirement based on these contributions.

It is only when you read and understand this that you can decide if the “pension box” is ticked.  It may be that you are on target for a financially comfortable retirement or you might be surprised to learn that there is a gap between what you will need compared to what you have.

A pension scheme is simply a tax efficient long-term savings plan, but knowing what the outcome will be at retirement is vital.  It is the key to ensuring you have time to enhance your savings should you require.

It is crucial that you take some time to read your defined contribution (DC) benefit statement each year.  Although the layout varies between providers, legislation dictates that all providers include the same information.  This includes your personal information, salary details, your pension contribution level and a statement showing contributions remitted to the scheme in the year since your last statement.  You should take a look over this information to ensure it is correct.

The key area is what is known as a statement of reasonable projection.  This is where you will see the details of your projected benefits at normal retirement age, based on a set of certain assumptions.

While this is not a cast iron guarantee of what will be available to you at retirement, it is the best estimate of what your future fund value and pension will be and the only way you can establish if your contributions into your pension will provide you with meaningful income in retirement.


Time to review

Back to my new clients, a couple in their 50’s, with a file full of unread benefit statements.  We looked at each of their most recent statements.  Both were happy with their fund values, surprised they had saved so much over the years.  Both equally surprised by how those fund values translated into income in retirement.  Taking into account the fact that their mortgage would be paid off by the time they retire and that they would both be entitled to the contributory state pension when they are 68 they still saw a potential shortfall in their desired income.  Finding out now at age 50 gives them close to 20 years to address this.  Rather than at 65 or 68 when they go to collect.


For further information please contact Susan O’Mara at: or phone: 01-4068020

Milestone Advisory DAC t/a Milestone Advisory is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.