Guide to using Target Date Funds

  • To learn how Target Date Funds work
  • To understand how Target Date Funds differ from Lifestyling
  • To learn how Target Date Funds can be used
Guide to using Target Date Funds


Target Date Funds are a relatively new concept for those operating in the pensions market, and for its adherents seem like a no-brainer.

Instead of offering the saver a host of funds to choose from, letting them make a decision they often feel ill-equipped to make, all the investor has to do is pick a date for when they want the money.

Indeed, the goal does not even need to be a retirement pot. Many in the US use Target Date Funds for saving for all sorts of long-term projects, like university fees, for example.

The principles remain the same: in the early years the investor is allocated into riskier assets, during the growth phase, and these are consolidated into less risky assets as the saver approaches retirement.

The savings journey is known as the glidepath and the decision to allocate to certain asset classes using multi-asset principles is taken by the fund manager.

The most important aspect from a saver’s point of view is when he or she wants to retire, and this is the target date, often marketed in blocks of three or blocks of five, so there might be on offer a 2020 cohort or 2030 cohort.

Critics say that lumps people altogether but adherents say that it helps in the current style of pension saving when people do not know exactly when they will retire.

Contributors to this guide are: Will Allport, senior retirement strategist at Vanguard; Emma Douglas, head of DC at LGIM; Brian Henderson, director of consulting at Mercer; Henry Cobbe, director of Elston Consulting; Craig Harrison, managing director of Creative Wealth Management; Paul Todd, director of investment development and delivery at Nest; Laith Khalaf , senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

Melanie Tringham is deputy features editor of FTAdviser and Financial Adviser

In this guide


Please answer the six multiple choice questions below in order to bank your CPD. Multiple attempts are available until all questions are correctly answered.

  1. The target date cohort is always set at annual dates, true or false?

  2. Which of the following is not a typical end result for one’s pension pot:

  3. What does target date refer to?

  4. Nest outsources its asset allocation process, true or false?

  5. Why have target date funds not taken off in the UK?

  6. What is seen to be one of the biggest advantages of Target Date Funds over lifestyling?

Nearly There…

You have successfully answered all the questions correctly, well done!

You should now know…

  • To learn how Target Date Funds work
  • To understand how Target Date Funds differ from Lifestyling
  • To learn how Target Date Funds can be used

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