Young male/female, aged 28, whos has a staff job earning pounds 25,000 and has been in a company pension scheme for five years, but she wants to move jobs and to take out a personal plan.

You should look at a provider that is offering a plan where most of your money (almost 100 per cent) goes to your pension and does not go in charges and there are no penalties, only loyalty bonuses. This kind of pension is more flexible. Suggest putting in a lump sum each year, if you are disciplined.

Self-employed, male/female, aged thirtysomething, earning in the region of pounds 20,000 per annum, lives with a partner but keeps finances separate, is looking to take out a pension that an unmarried partner could benefit from in the event of his/her death.

Opt for a personal-pension plan with mixed profits and unit-linked portfolio and nominate a beneficiary before you retire.

Panic-struck 46-year-old now earning pounds 18,000 a year, never had a pension, not in a company scheme, unlikely to marry and fearing an impoverished old age.

From 30-45 you can put 20 per cent of your income into a pension, at 46 you can increase this to 25 per cent. Despite the short time before retirement, a pension is a good tax option. Look for a flexible plan with lower risk unit-linked investments.

Single parent, 25, employed part-time, earning pounds 10,500 a year and seeking a pension that he/she can add to as she hopes to return to full-time employment soon.

Look for a pension which is as flexible as possible with low penalties, because income may vary. Also consider death benefits.

Male blue-collar worker, 47, recently redundant and about to be self- employed. Has had an occupational pension for 20 years. Current salary is pounds 21,000, and has a pounds 15,000 redundancy pay-off to invest.

Consider a single, one-off lump-sum premium, but weigh up the charges carefully.