Workers don't understand pensions or how much they should be saving

Nov 14 2005 by Nic Paton Print This Article

The majority of British workers paying into a workplace pension are unsure what size of pension pot they will need to give them a comfortable retirement.

That's the message from a new study by JPMorgan Asset Management published just weeks before the Pension Commission releases its review of the UK private pensions system, which is due at the end of November.

The survey of 795 holders of workplace pension schemes found that just 20 per cent understood that to secure a pension income of 15,000 a year in retirement they would need a fund of 250,000.

There was also widespread ignorance about the link between the size of a defined-contribution pension fund at retirement and the level of income this could be converted into.

This lack of awareness was underlined by the fact that almost a quarter of those polled did not know whether they held a defined-benefit or a defined-contribution pension scheme.

Of those that were aware, one in five admitted they have never reviewed their choice of investments or level of contribution into their pension.

Yet, despite this lack of understanding, the employees surveyed did generally have good intentions towards managing their pension fund.

Three-quarters of members of defined-contribution schemes reviewed their scheme at least every three years.

But the evident lack of proper understanding about how pension funds work meant those individuals who were reviewing their scheme might not recognise the warning signs if they were not paying enough in, JPMorgan Asset Management said.

Karen Roberton, head of DC investment services at JPMAM, said: "There is evidently a fundamental lack of awareness among UK workers as to how pension funds work and the measures required to secure a reasonable level of income in retirement.

"As more and more organisations shift to money-purchase type schemes, where the onus is on the individual rather than the employer to monitor their pension fund, provision of a pension in the workplace needs to be supported by proper education," she added.

She continued: "Employees must be confident about how their pension works and how to meet their particular retirement needs."