As the seeds of change continue to shift more and more responsibility for financial planning to individual employees, there is a greater need to fill the growing chasm of financial literacy.
A multi-country study by the State Street Center for Applied Research found that individual investors scored barely a D-grade in financial literacy with many investors failing to know the annual return on their investments or finding the fees charged too difficult to work out.
Following the crowd, performance hunting, buying at the wrong time in the market and inertia are all common problems uncovered in studies of inexperienced investors.
This behaviour although detrimental to investors has even more dire consequences when considering the (lack of) planning for retirement. Retirement is a long-term game and aim, with only a very wealthy few able to ignore the need to plan and save throughout their whole career.
The populous view is that millenials and generation Z are the worst off generations in the workplace when it comes to pension planning. But it is likely to be a very difficult pathway for anyone in their 40's and 50's who comes to the realisation that they need to do something to prepare for a financially secure retirement.
As far as retirement planning is concerned the golden rules are start as early as possible, save regularly, wherever possible contribute enough to maximise your employer's contribution, contribute as much as you can (within the pension tax limits) and review your pension regularly.
This lack of financial literacy calls for a wider application of good financial education; not programmes that tick a box or hide a sales pitch. Real education where the objective is to improve financial wellbeing, to raise awareness, build confidence and to empower people to take action is what's needed now.
The UK Financial Conduct Authority’s recent exposure of the abuses around the 2015 pension freedoms caused few surprises. It has, yet again, pointed the finger at the long-ignored elephant in the room: low financial literacy on the part of pension savers. Across the OECD, the club of mostly rich nations, the winds of change continue to shift all retirement risks from employer to employee. The employee is seen as a “retirement planner” — a proactive individual capable of accessing the right information, making the right decisions, monitoring the outcomes and doing the necessary course corrections. The UK’s pension freedoms rest on this caricature. Yet it is at odds with reality, as revealed in a multi-country study by the State Street Center for Applied Research. Individual investors scored barely a D-grade in a financial literacy test.