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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries

Widespread pension confusion among UK public uncovered

The majority of UK workers think pensions are confusing and don’t know how much to save, according to a new study, with much of the blame levelled at employers.

Workers confused by pension saving ©iStock
Workers confused by pension saving ©iStock

The findings are detailed in a report released today by Atlas Master Trust, which said that three-quarters of workers don’t know enough about pensions to make informed decisions.

After polling over 2,000 employees, it found that 61% find pensions confusing, 59% are unsure how much to save, and that 60% don’t have a specific retirement goal.

Moreover, a worrying 74% of workers do not know the difference between pension arrangements such as defined contribution, defined benefit, and master trusts.

And it could be that bosses are to blame, with a massive 96% of workers saying employers should be more transparent about pension shortfalls and the realities of retirement.

The study also found that 60% of employees think minimum workplace pension contributions represent what the government recommends for an adequate retirement income.

Atlas Master Trust’s head of engagement, Roz Watson, said employers should take an approach to pensions based on the “three Ts” – transparency, training and tools.

“Too many employers are focusing their engagement efforts on increasing visits to a website or downloads of an app,” she continued.

“Real engagement is about driving genuine awareness of pensions, empowering members to make proactive decisions and to understand the implications of these decisions.”

Along with over 2,000 employees, the study involved 200 pension managers, 200 senior finance professionals, and 100 senior human resources (HR) professionals.

It found that 91% of HR and finance leaders, and 93% of pension professionals believe employers should provide more financial education to staff.

Eight in 10 workers want a better understanding of what they need to save for a comfortable retirement, and three-quarters want examples of what others do with their pensions.

“Too many employees are being turned off by uninspiring communications that they feel don’t reflect their needs or personal situation,” Watson continued.

“Driving a better understanding around pensions is critical to ensure people feel empowered to make informed decisions based on all of the options available to them, and in control of their own future.

“This means a new approach to engagement, one that is highly targeted around education, access and honest dialogue.”

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