Although it was Benjamin Franklin who originally recognised this, it is so true and especially so when applied to helping employees to understand and make the most of their pension savings.
With defined contribution pensions, employees have a huge role to play in the size of the pension pot they build up. They can influence this in 3 principal ways:
- The length of time they save - the earlier they start the better
- The amount they (and their employer) contributes
- Where they invest their pension and regularly reviewing and changing this as necessary over time to reflect the individual's needs, circumstances and attitude to risk
Investing, and particularly over a period that may be 30+ years in a career, is complex and so its no wonder that 71% of people don't understand it.
Making good investment decisions for a pension requires individuals to have some understanding of the wider choices they can now make at retirement, the default strategy and how that works in their own scheme, their time horizon, their own attitude to risk, the different types of investments available and the asset mix and risk rating of each, investment performance, costs and the impact over time. This is a lot to ask and so employees with need help with this.
Financial education specifically targeted at making the most of pensions should address all of these aspects and guide people to more informed decisions and an increased engagement with their pension.
More than two-thirds (71%) of millennial respondents do not understand or are unsure about their pension investments, according to research by Barnett Waddingham. Its Generation why? survey 2016, which surveyed 506 employees, also found that 72% of generation X respondents (aged 30-49) do not feel certain about their understanding of pensions investment.