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How can I fund an early retirement option?

Funding retirement has generally become more difficult with the slump in the stockmarket and low interest rates. The Equitable Life disaster added extra pain to those GPs invested in this company. Your age is on your side as the earlier you start saving the better. You have a longer period to achieve good average growth and spread the savings load over many years.

Expert opinion is currently divided. You have many options and if recent events teach one thing it is not to have all your eggs in one basket. You should invest in a variety of saving vehicles. The advantage of putting extra money into a pension scheme is that the contributions attract tax relief at your highest rate ­ 40 per cent for most GPs.

The disadvantage is that under current rules most of the money on retirement must be invested in an annuity. Annuity rates are currently low and when you die the money is lost. There is still an NHS AVC scheme (not with Equitable!) and you may also be able to invest in a private pension. You should also look at the NHS added-years scheme. Although the contributions are more expensive, you are guaranteed the extra pension and lump sum at the end ­ in today's climate this is a huge advantage.

Also look at investing regular monthly amounts in a spread of cash, bonds, gilts and shares using ISAs wherever possible. Although there is no tax relief on paying in, growth and interest are tax-free. Get professional advice, read financial columns regularly and always monitor your investments regularly.

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