How your money grows

What happens to the money you save

The money you save into the Plan is invested. If you're many years away from needing to use the money, for example when you first start saving, then you might invest to give your savings the opportunity to grow. If you're closer to using your money, for example in the years leading up to retirement, then you might invest in a way that protects the value of the money you've built up. Because your money's invested, the value of your pension pot can go up or down from day to day, depending on how your investments are doing. This is normal. The aim is that by the time you come to use your money, the value of your pot will be bigger than if you hadn't invested it.

You can either leave the choice of how to invest to the Trustees, or choose how you invest yourself. You can make your choice, or change it, on PlanViewer.

How and when you want to take your money might affect how your money should be invested, so, it's a good idea to regularly review your investments to check they align with your plans.

Leaving investment to the Trustees

Most people don't choose how they invest their money, preferring to leave it to the Trustees. Working with investment advisers, the Trustees create what's called the 'default option'. This is a way of investing they believe will work best for most members. If you don't tell us how you want to invest, your money will be invested in the default option.

The default option uses something called automatic switching. This assumes you want to grow your money in the earlier years of saving, and protect its value as you get closer to retiring. If you don't make a different choice, we'll assume you want to start taking your money at 65, and we'll start moving your money based on this age. The automatic switching strategy the default option uses is called the Moderate Growth to Flexibility strategy.

To begin with, your money is invested in a fund called the Moderate Growth Fund, that aims to grow your money so it's worth more by the time you come to use it. Then, when you're 10 years away from your retirement date, your money starts to move into a fund called the Cautious Growth Fund. This fund still aims to grow your money, but it's less likely to fall in value. Finally, when you're 4 years away from your retirement date, a proportion of your money starts to move to the Cash Fund, which focuses on protecting the money you've invested.

Choosing how you invest

Some people choose how they invest. There are two main ways you can do this: by choosing one of 6 'switching strategies', or choosing one of 7 individual funds. With the switching strategies, money moves into lower risk funds automatically as you get closer to your retirement date. With the individual funds, you're responsible for managing your money and deciding which funds to use.

To choose a switching strategy, you need to decide how much risk you're comfortable taking and also how you think you might use the money.

Automatic switching moves your money as you get closer to your retirement age. If you don't make a different choice, we'll assume you want to start taking your money at 65, and we'll start moving your money based on this age. But you can change your retirement age if you want to.

You can start automatic switching at any time. But your money will start to move from 10 years before your retirement date. So to benefit, you'll need to start automatic switching before your money would be due to move.

You can also stop automatic switching at any time, and choose yourself how to invest the money in your pot.

Cautious Growth to Cash

This is designed for members who want to take their savings as cash when they retire and would prefer to take a lower level of risk when they are further from retirement.

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Moderate Growth to Cash

This is designed for members who want to take their savings as cash when they retire and are comfortable taking a higher level of risk when they are further from retirement.

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Cautious Growth to Flexibility

This is designed for members who want to use their money flexibly when they retire and are comfortable taking a higher level of risk when they are further from retirement.

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Moderate Growth to Flexibility

This is the default option

This is designed for members who want to use their money flexibly when they retire and would prefer to take a lower level of risk when they are further from retirement.

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Moderate Growth to Annuity

This is designed for members who want to buy an income for life, take their 25% tax-free cash lump sum when they retire and who are comfortable taking a higher level of risk when they are further from retirement.

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Cautious Growth to Annuity

This is designed for members who want buy an income for life, take their 25% tax-free cash lump sum when they retire and would prefer to take a lower level of risk when they are further from retirement.

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There are 7 funds to choose from, each of which invests in a different way. You can invest your money in one of these funds or a combination of them. With these funds, you're responsible for managing your money and deciding which funds to use. This is the switching strategy used by the default option.

Cautious Growth Fund

This fund aims to grow your money over the long term, and has a moderate chance of going down in value during that time. A significant part of this fund invests in assets that don't aim for growth.

Moderate Growth Fund

This fund aims to grow your money by more than the Cautious Growth Fund, and has a higher chance of going down in value during that time. Part of this fund invests in assets that don't aim for growth.

Cash Fund

This fund aims to grow your money while protecting the money you originally invested. In this fund, you can expect your money to grow in line with the interest rate your bank might give you.

Bond Fund

This fund aims to grow your money in line with the returns that investing in Government and corporate bonds might give you. The price of an income for life is broadly linked to the value of bond funds, so the value of this fund is expected to match changes in the cost of buying an income for life.

Real Return Fund

This fund aims to provide some protection against changes in the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation over the longer term. It does this by investing in inflation-linked bonds and property.

Global Equity Fund

This fund invests in a range of shares in UK and overseas companies. It aims to grow your money in line with the average returns measured across global stock markets.

Emerging Markets Fund

This fund invests mostly in shares in companies in the developing world – like in China, India, or the UAE. These countries are growing quickly into global economies, which means your money is likely to rise and fall significantly in value.

You can find out more about each fund in the fund factsheets.

The Trustees' role in choosing the Plan's investment options

The characteristics that the investment options available within the Plan need to have are set out in the rules of the Unilever UK Pension Fund. But it's the Trustees' responsibility to decide the actual make-up of the funds according to these characteristics. They appoint the fund managers who manage the investments, and they can change them without getting consent from members.

How we invest your money responsibly

We believe that the transition to a more sustainable world is inevitable. Of the many challenges to be addressed along the way, climate change is our key priority, and the impact of global warming is the most immediate and significant risk to the global economy. We have therefore set targets for reducing carbon exposure from the Unilever UK Pension Fund's investments and have developed implementation plans for achieving these targets.

We have continued to take steps to implement sustainability within the investment options available to members, including the default option. In particular, the Trustees have developed a bespoke sustainability equity fund. This fund is accessible across any of the Retirement Savings Plan's investment options that have global equity exposure - including the default option. This fund accounts for 100% of the Plan's global equity investments.

We have undertaken a substantial review of our approach to sustainability and have recently agreed our new Sustainability Ambition and set ourselves challenging objectives as a result. This includes a 50% reduction in carbon exposure by the end of 2029 across the Fund. We look forward to working towards achieving these goals over the coming years.

The charges you pay

As with all investments, you pay charges to cover the cost of investing your money. These charges are automatically factored into the price of the funds you invest in, so they're taken automatically. You don't need to do anything.

You can see the charges for each individual fund in the Fund factsheets.

How to manage your investments

You can manage your investments online using PlanViewer. You can

  • see how much money you've built up
  • move your money into different funds
  • change your target retirement date