Cutting the jargon from pensions
Despite the relative success of the Automatic Enrolment rollout, and the increase of minimum combined contributions from 5% to 8%, there is still a culture of misunderstanding surrounding pensions.
What are the statistics?
A reported 51% of the public believing that the minimum contributions are in line with the recommended rate of saving. This is unfortunately not the case. Experts generally recommend a figure closer to 13%. Something needs to change for people to have a real understanding of their pensions.
In 2019, IFA firm Portafina conducted research with a sample of over 2,000 people between the ages of 18 and 70. It was designed to find out how much we know and, more importantly, don’t know about the world of pensions. The figures paint a pretty clear picture that there is an issue to be addressed:
- Less than 1 in 5 (19%) know exactly what a pension is
- 72% do not know when they would be able to withdraw money from a private pension
- 31% have no idea when their pension would be taxed. (A further 40% thought that they knew, but were wrong)
So why is it that we don’t understand?
It might be because of all the technical jargon. In fact, 85% of those surveyed in the Portafina report said that if they received clearer information about their pension in plain language and direct, coherent graphics, they would be able to make more informed decisions. When confronted with 7 common examples of pension related terms, only 37% knew what some of them meant, with a quarter not understanding any of them at all. Perhaps this is just a symptom of a larger problem regarding the lack of financial education available.
What does the government say?
According to the Government guidance, since the introduction of financial education to the national curriculum in 2014, pupils at key stage 4 should be taught about “income and expenditure, credit and debt, insurance, savings and pensions, financial products and services, and how public money is raised and spent.” Despite this, estimates put the figure of schools actually delivering this education at around 40%, as although it’s compulsory for secondary schools, academies and free schools are not bound by the official curriculum.
It’s a shame that so many people are missing out on the benefits and later life income available through proper pensions practice.
The value of investments and the income derived from them can fall as well as rise. You may not get back what you invest. A pension is a long term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down. Your eventual income may depend on the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates and tax legislation