Frequently asked questions

  • General

  • How does the Mastertrust work?

    The Mastertrust helps you to save for retirement by investing the money you and AXA pay to build up cash you can use to provide you with an income. The advantages of the Mastertrust over other ways of saving are that AXA will also pay into it for you, and you receive help from the Government in the form of tax and National Insurance reliefs.

  • What is a mastertrust?

    A mastertrust is a type of DC trust-based pension scheme in which multiple employers can participate. There is one trustee and a single trust structure, but there are multiple separate sections which relate to different employers (who are generally not associated with each other). Each of the separate sections of the Mastertrust will have their own bespoke requirements and benefit structure. Several pension scheme types now exist in the workplace pension market. Mastertrusts are one of the most popular with over 16 million people in the UK now saving for their retirement via a mastertrust. They are highly regulated and must go through a robust authorisation process, followed by a supervision process under the Pensions Regulator.

  • How do I join?

    AXA contractually enrols all new employees into the Mastertrust from the first day you start work (unless specific alternative arrangements have been made).

  • How do I access my Account?

    You can access your Account by logging in using the button at the top of the page. If you have any problems logging in, you can contact 01737 230 473 for help.

  • Who are Willis Towers Watson?

    Willis Towers Watson are the administrators of the LifeSight Mastertrust and will be able to help you with any administrative queries you might have about your Account.

  • Is it possible to transfer in benefits from other pension arrangements?

    Yes, it may be possible to transfer in benefits from other pension arrangements.

  • How do I use my Account to fund my retirement?

    You will have several options to choose from when you come to take the money from your Account. The retirement options section of the site explains these in more detail.

  • Is my pension safe?

    Your pension is held in a trust-based scheme which means that the money you save into it is totally separate from AXA the company. The main risk you take is investing your funds in the markets, which can go up and down. If AXA were to cease trading, your funds could be transferred to another scheme. The Mastertrust also falls under the remit of the Pensions Regulator, who is there to ensure all those charged with running pension schemes do so correctly and effectively. You can find out more on their website www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk.

  • Is the Mastertrust safe?

    The Pension Schemes Act 2017 introduced a new regime for the authorisation of mastertrusts which came into force from 1 October 2018. To become authorised the Pensions Regulator (TPR) must be satisfied that the scheme meets the following criteria:

    • the persons involved in the scheme are fit and proper;
    • the scheme is financially sustainable;
    • each scheme funder meets specified requirements;
    • the systems and processes used in running the scheme are sufficient to ensure that it is run effectively; and
    • the scheme has an adequate continuity strategy.

    Members should take comfort from the extensive regulatory regime that sits around the Mastertrust and the fact that the Pensions Regulator is responsible for its supervision.

  • Investments

  • How do investments work?

    The aim is to try to increase the value of your Account to give you more money when you reach retirement. Click here to watch our video ‘investments explained’. For further information, visit the investments section of the site.

  • How are my pension contributions invested?

    Your contributions are automatically invested when you pay them to the Mastertrust. If you haven’t chosen where to invest them, your contributions will be invested in the default investment strategy. This is the Drawdown Lifecycle Strategy (also known as the 'Do it for me' option). For further information, please go to the investments section.

  • How can I view and change my investments?

    You can review your current investments using the login button at the top of the page. Please note you will not be able to make changes to your investment until after the transition to LifeSight in mid December.

  • What if I want to invest in funds that aren’t available through the Mastertrust?

    If you wish to invest in funds not available through the Scheme you have the option of a partial transfer. This is where you can transfer part of your Account to another registered pension arrangement of your choice. Please contact Lifesight for further information.

  • What if I can’t decide where to invest my Account?

    If you’d like any advice on how you should invest your money, then you will need to speak to a financial adviser. You can find out about using a financial adviser on www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk

  • Do I need to worry if I make investment losses?

    The nature of equities and bonds means that their value can go up and down over time. This is to be expected, and so you are likely to make investment losses from time to time. However, a pension is a long-term investment, and so the expectation is that despite negative setbacks, growth assets will deliver growth over the long term.

  • Do I have to pay any investment management fees?

    Many of the costs associated with running the Mastertrust are met by AXA, but there are some costs involved in the investment of your fund that you have to pay. These are the Total Expense Ratios, and you can find them on the fund factsheets.

  • What happens if...

  • What happens if I’m absent due to long term illness?

    If you’re suffering from ill health and, after your period of sick leave has ended, you’re still unable to continue with your role, AXA and the Trustees may allow you to take your benefits from the Mastertrust early (regardless of your age). Please see your relevant member guide for further information.

  • What happens to my pension contributions if I take family leave?

    While on paid family leave, contributions will still be made into your Account. Contributions won’t be paid while on unpaid leave, however you may have the option to make up the payments you missed while you were on leave and AXA will then also make up the payments it missed. Please see your relevant member guide for further information.

  • What happens to my pension if I die?

    The value of your Account will normally be paid as a lump sum. You will need to complete a LifeSight expression of wish form for any pension benefits by logging in to your LifeSight Account.

    If you are still employed by AXA please complete a death in service expression of wish form to let the Life Assurance Arrangement Trustees know who you would like to receive any lump sum benefit payable on your death in service. This form can be found here.

  • What happens if I’m made redundant or leave AXA?

    For most employees, as long as you have been a member of the Mastertrust for more than 30 days, the full value of your Account will remain in the Mastertrust until you retire or decide to transfer it to another pension arrangement. Please see your relevant member guide for further information.

  • What happens to my pension if get divorced?

    If you get divorced or your civil partnership is dissolved, your benefits in the Mastertrust will be taken into account as part of the settlement and the Trustees may have to allocate part of your Account to your former spouse. Please see your relevant member guide for further information.

  • What happens if I don't want to be in the LifeSight Mastertrust?

    You can opt out by completing and returning an opt-out form. However, you will lose valuable retirement benefits if you decide to opt out or stop contributions to the Mastertrust, and your life cover may be reduced.

  • Auto enrolment

  • What is automatic enrolment?

    To help everyone to save more for their retirement, employees who:

    • earn more than £10,000 a year;
    • are aged over 22 and under State Pension age; and
    • work or ordinarily work in the UK

    must be enrolled in a pension scheme by their employer. You can opt out of the scheme at any time, but you will be re-enrolled every three years (at which point you can opt out again if you choose). When you join AXA, you are enrolled into the LifeSight Mastertrust from the day you start work.

  • Will I still be automatically enrolled in the Mastertrust if I am currently drawing a pension from the AXA Group Pension Scheme or another AXA pension scheme?

    Yes, if you meet the eligibility criteria, you will still be automatically enrolled into the Mastertrust. You will be able to opt out again but only once you’ve been automatically enrolled. See Can I change how much I contribute? and Can I opt out of the Mastertrust? below for details of how to opt out.

  • Can I join the Mastertrust before I become eligible for automatic enrolment?

    Yes, you can join the Mastertrust before you become eligible for automatic enrolment. You should complete an Opt-in Form.

  • What is PaySmart?

    Paysmart is the salary sacrifice arrangement for all employees of AXA UK. By making your contributions through Paysmart or any salary sacrifice arrangement, you make both Income Tax and National Insurance savings. If you don’t make your pension contributions through Paysmart, then you will only receive Income Tax savings.

  • What if I don’t want to make my contributions through PaySmart?

    If you are currently making your contributions via PaySmart and wish to stop, then you will need to complete and return the PaySmart Opt-out Form. Please note that if you opt out of PaySmart, then you will no longer receive National Insurance relief on your pension contributions.

  • How much will I have to pay?

    You will be automatically enrolled based on the default contributions applicable to your area of the business. You can find out how much this is and what it will cost you with the contributions calculator.

  • Can I change how much I contribute?

    Yes, once you’ve been automatically enrolled in the Mastertrust, you can make changes to your contribution. You can find out more about paying more (or less) in our contributions section.

  • Can I opt out of the Mastertrust?

    Yes, you can choose to opt out of the Mastertrust if you want to, but you cannot opt out before you’ve been automatically enrolled. Opting out is a serious decision which could materially affect your long-term financial wellbeing. You should therefore think very carefully about the consequences of opting out and you may wish to take independent financial advice before making your decision. If you do opt out, you will still be covered for a lump sum death benefit, but it may be at a lower level than as a Mastertrust member.

  • How do I opt out of the Mastertrust?

    Once you are enrolled, you will receive a letter confirming that you are an active member of the Mastertrust. You will then have a period of one month from the date on the letter to either opt out online or complete and return an opt-out form. This is known as the opt out period.

    As long as you have opted out by the end of the opt out period, you will be treated as having never been an active member of the Mastertrust and your contributions, if any, will be refunded via payroll, with appropriate deductions of PAYE and National Insurance.

    If you do not opt out within the opt out period, then any contributions made to the Mastertrust will remain invested until you choose to take them at retirement or transfer them to another pension scheme.

  • 2008 or 2017 Section

  • Am I in the 2008 or 2017 Section?

    For some employers there is a different treatment dependent upon when you joined the AXA UK Group Pension Scheme.

    If you work for any of the companies below and joined AXA before 1 September 2017, and have not chosen to switch to the 2017 Section, you are in the 2008 Section.

    • AXA UK
    • AXA Insurance
    • AXA PPP Healthcare
    • AXA Global Healthcare
    • Architas
    • AXA Group Operations
    • AXA Ireland (before 1 January 2018)
    • AXA Liability Managers (before 1 April 2019)

    If you work for any of the companies below and joined AXA after 1 September 2017, or if you have chosen to switch to the 2017 Section, you are in the 2017 section.

    • AXA UK
    • AXA Insurance
    • AXA PPP Healthcare
    • AXA Global Healthcare
    • Architas
    • AXA Group Operations
    • AXA Ireland (after 1 January 2018)
    • AXA Liability Managers (after 1 April 2019)
  • Can I switch between the Sections?

    If you are employed by an AXA company that has the 2008 and 2017 Sections, and you are currently part of the 2008 Section, then you have the option to switch to the 2017 Section.

    However, once you have switched to the 2017 Section, or if you are already part of the 2017 Section, you do not have the option to rejoin or join the 2008 Section.

    If you are in the 2008 Section and you’re interested in switching to the 2017 Section, please contact the AXA Pensions Team.

  • Jargon buster

  • Account

    The individual account that the Trustees set up in your name to which all contributions paid by or in respect of you are credited. The amount in your Account will go up or down in line with the performance of your investment funds.

  • Actively managed fund

    A fund where an investment manager attempts to produce returns that are higher than the benchmark (such as the FTSE 100 Index). But there is also a risk that their returns could fail to match the benchmark.

  • Annual allowance

    The total amount of contributions that can be paid to pension savings each tax year in the UK with the benefit of tax relief. This is £40,000 for the current tax year but may be lower for high earners. This includes any contributions made on your behalf (eg by your employer). For more information about tax and allowances go to the contribution limits section.

  • Annuity

    An insurance policy you can buy when you retire using the money in your Account. It pays an income for the rest of your life. You can find out more about annuities in the retirement options section.

  • Company

    Any company in the AXA Group of Companies in the UK that offers you membership of the LifeSight Mastertrust under your contract of employment.

  • Defined benefit

    A defined benefit pension scheme - sometimes called a final salary pension scheme - is one that pays out an income based on how much you earn when you retire. The defined benefit (DB) section of the AXA UK Pension Scheme is closed to new members. Existing members can no longer build up any benefits in this section, but they can take what they already had as a pension at retirement.

  • Defined contribution

    A defined contribution scheme is a type of retirement plan in which the employer, employee or both make regular contributions to an account. This account is then used to provide an income at retirement, through an annuity (pension) and/or a cash lump sum. All current employees of AXA UK are automatically enrolled in to the LifeSight Mastertrust, which is a defined contribution (DC) type of scheme. Contributions to your Account vary depending which AXA Company you work for.

  • Freechoice (’leave it to me’) investment option

    One of the two investment strategies that you can choose from. This differs from the Lifecycle Strategy as you decide how much to invest in each of the available funds. If you invest using the Freechoice option, it is important that you regularly review your investment choices and make sure that these are right for your current circumstances. You can find out more about the Freechoice option in the investments section.

  • Income drawdown

    Under income drawdown, each year you withdraw a retirement income from a pension arrangement and leave the rest invested. You have the flexibility to take out as much money as you like each year. You can find out more about drawdown in the retirement options section.

  • Lifecycle Strategy (‘do it for me’) investment option

    Under the Lifecycle Strategies your investments are managed so that as you approach your target retirement date your money is moved into less volatile funds to protect its value more. There are several different Lifecycle Strategies and you can find our more about how they work in the investments section.

  • Lifetime Allowance

    The maximum pension savings you can build up in all UK pension arrangements in a tax efficient manner. This is £1,075,100 for the 2020/21 tax year. For more information about tax and allowances go to the contribution limits section.

  • Passively managed fund

    A fund where the investment manager aims to achieve a return that is close to a chosen benchmark, for example the FTSE 100. Passively manged funds are unlikely to do much worse than the benchmark, but neither will they outperform it by much.

  • PaySmart

    An arrangement whereby you agree to give up a part of your pay, equivalent to the employee contributions you would otherwise have paid to the Mastertrust. The Company then pays into the Mastertrust the amount of the contributions you would have paid. As your pay is reduced, you pay lower National Insurance contributions.

  • Spouse

    Your legally married wife or husband or civil partner.

  • State Pension age

    The age at which State Pension benefits normally become payable. Your State Pension age will depend on your date of birth. For more information go to www.gov.uk/state-pension-age

  • Target/Normal Retirement Age

    Your default retirement age is 65. You can choose to retire at a different age, but you should think about the financial implications of this first. You can find out more in the retirement options section.

  • Trustees

    The people who are responsible for managing the Mastertrust in the best interest of members.

  • Uncrystallised Funds Pension Lump Sum (UFPLS)

    This is when you take money from your Account as a cash lump sum payment. 25% is tax free and the rest of the cash is taxed as income (like your salary). You can find out more in the retirement options section.

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