THE prospect of a frugal retirement and working long into old age hardly fits the picture most people have of themselves, but this scenario is a reality for many divorced women. This is because most women have no retirement plan of their own. But relying on your husband's pension to provide for you in your old age is no longer a recommended course of action. High divorce rates have in many cases made redundant retirement plans based on the premise that two people will remain married until they grow old. And in Hong Kong, there is no provision for the proceeds of a pension scheme to be split, although pensionable assets are taken into consideration in divorce settlements. Divorce lawyer Robin Egerton said new moves in Britain, where the issue of splitting pensions is being examined, have yet to reach Hong Kong. Mr Egerton said the law allows for pension plans to be taken into consideration during a divorce settlement and gives the person who stands to lose a future benefit, a larger share of the settlement. But compensation as a result of a divorce falls a long way short of the security offered by your own retirement plan. Whether you are single or married, you should have your own plan, either through a scheme set up by your employee, or a personal plan. Towry Law financial adviser Paula King says women should start saving at least 15 per cent of their salary as soon as they begin working, whether they are single or married. A pension plan does not have to be highly structured, it's just a method of earmarking money for another time. Choosing a vehicle for your retirement money requires great care because some insurance products are extremely unsuitable for the majority of investors because of their long contribution periods and high commissions. A retirement plan can be a carefully managed mutual fund investment, but it can also be a private or a company retirement scheme run by an insurance company. Several factors will dictate which savings method is the most cost effective including tax considerations, the country you intend to live in and how long you have to save. A compelling reason for expatriates to be contributing towards a long-term savings plan in Hong Kong, is that they can cover a lot of ground in a little time. A factor distinguishing Hong Kong from other tax regimes is the flexibility to access pension savings before retirement. However, this freedom is greatly limited in insurance retirement schemes, where cash withdrawals before the policy maturity date, often carry financial penalties. Ms King said special planning considerations need to be addressed by women for retirement because they have a shorter time in which to accumulate the money they will need for the future. 'Time off to have children and the fact that women generally have shorter working lives with accepted earlier retirement ages in many countries reduces the number of years they can contribute to a savings plan,' Ms King said. 'It's also common for women's employment to be disrupted when couples relocate.' Women also live longer than men and need to plan for a longer retirement. According to Ms King, not all company and personal pension schemes provide benefits for widows. The social problems that result from wives who miss out on retirement packages because of a divorce surfaced in Britain recently and an amendment to the pensions bill passed in the House of Lords last month, but not yet law, will make divorced wives entitled to a share of their husband's pension when he retires. Although this is a significant development, it leaves room for future problems because a pension that was structured to meet the costs of two people living under one roof is unlikely to stretch to the maintenance of two separate households.