Approved Retirement Funds

An Approved Retirement Fund (‘ARF’) is a personal tax efficient investment fund into which you can transfer all or part of the balance of your pension fund after you receive your retirement lump sum. ARFs are long term investment funds which can give you increased flexibility in terms of how you use your pension fund after retirement.


The benefits of an Approved Retirement Fund (ARF) include

ARFs can be an attractive alternative to pension annuities

The cost of annuities have generally increased due to a better interest rate environment and improved life expectancy.

Your fund passes to your estate on your death.

One of the main differences between an ARF and an annuity is that with an ARF you own your retirement fund. This means that when you die you can leave any remaining funds to your spouse/civil partner or other beneficiaries. If you leave the funds to your spouse or civil partner, the funds can be transferred to an Approved Retirement Fund in their name. There are income tax and inheritance tax implications on the transfer of assets.

You can manage your retirement income to minimise your tax

Those who withdraw regularly may have the option of taking just enough to keep them on the lower rate of tax (currently 20%). This is very attractive if you received tax relief on your contributions at the higher rate (currently 40%). Any withdrawals from your ARF will be subject to income tax, the Universal Social Charge and Pay Related Social Insurance (if you are liable for this). Your tax is automatically deducted from your ARF withdrawals by your ARF provider.

Your fund can remain invested after retirement

By investing in an ARF, your money can remain invested in funds that offer growth potential. The level of this growth, if any, will obviously depend on what fund you wish to invest in and its performance.

Five good reasons to invest in an Acorn Life Approved Retirement Fund

1. Acorn Life

Acorn Life is a 100% Irish owned Life Assurance Company providing protection, pensions, savings and investments to the Irish public.  Established in 1989, Acorn Life is the first Irish owned Life Insurance Company to achieve the Guaranteed Irish symbol– Ireland’s most trusted and recognized symbol for quality Irish goods and services.  Acorn Life Approved Retirement Funds offer you competitive savings with the minimum of fuss.

2. Your fund will be expertly managed byAcorn Life’s Fund Managers

Acorn Life’s Managed Funds are managed by HSBC Global Asset Management (UK) Limited (regulated by the Financial Services Authority), the core global investments solutions provider of the HSBC Group, one of the world’s largest financial services organisations with over $450 billion in assets under management (Dec 2018).

3. Building Relationships

Acorn Life build a relationship with you that enable you to benefit from our expertise, local presence and range of products. We communicate regularly with you and provide you with information on all aspects of your business with us through our national network of branch offices and personal financial advisers.

4. Value for Money

Acorn Life is committed to providing you with excellent products that offer value for money and meet your individual needs.

5. Flexibility

Your Approved Retirement Fund is flexible. You can switch how your funds are invested as your requirements change. You can choose when and how frequently you take your benefits. This gives you flexibility and control over your investment as you can adapt it to suit your changing needs and circumstances.


An ARF is available to those who have a pension and have either reached normal retirement age or have taken early retirement. This includes members of an Occupational Pension Scheme (assuming scheme rules allow) and individuals that hold a Personal Pension, Personal Retirement Savings Account (‘PRSA’) or Retirement Bond.

Before you can invest in an ARF, you must satisfy the standard income test. The test is that you must have a guaranteed annual income of at least €12,700. This would include a pension or annuity that is guaranteed to be payable for the rest of your life, including any State guaranteed pension. If you do not satisfy the income test you can still purchase an ARF on condition that you also purchase an Approved Minimum Retirement Fund (‘AMRF’) or an annuity. The test does not apply to individuals aged 75 or over, who may invest in an ARF without satisfying the guaranteed income or AMRF requirements.

An AMRF is similar to an ARF except that aside from an annual voluntary withdrawal of 4% of the value of your AMRF, it is not possible to access the capital until the individual is aged 75 years. When you reach the age of 75, or upon death, the AMRF automatically converts into an ARF. The amount which must be invested in the AMRF from your remaining pension fund (i.e. after deduction of your lump sum) is €63,500 or the entire remaining pension fund if it is less.

Talk to us today and we can help you assess whether you qualify for an ARF/AMRF.


Additional Information

A management charge of 1.75% per annum applies to the funds in which your policy invests.  If you invest an amount of €250,000 or greater in the Acorn Life ARF/AMRF product, a reduced management charge of 1.00% per annum is applied to the funds in which your policy invests.

An administration fee of €10 applies to each regular income withdrawal. A penalty applies to any surrenders outside of regular withdrawals within the first 5 years of your investment, which ranges from 5% in year one to 2% in year five.

In accordance with the Finance Act 2006, Acorn Life is required to deduct a minimum amount of tax from an ARF policy on a yearly basis as if a withdrawal of 4% or 5% depending on your age (or 6% if the total value of your ARF exceeds €2m) had been taken. This deemed withdrawal is referred to as Imputed Distribution.

There is a risk that the ARF could run out in your lifetime. This could happen if you take income from your ARF at too high a rate, its investment performance is less than expected or you live longer than expected.

For a summary of our Fees and Charges please click here.

Warning: The value of your investment may go down as well as up.
Warning: If you invest in this product you may lose some or all of the money you invest.
Warning: This product may be affected by changes in currency exchange rates.
Warning: The income you get from this investment may go down as well as up.