Anyone in the pensions industry will be familiar with the tendency of people to put off thinking about their retirement. Some simply tell themselves they’ll deal with it later and forget about it, others are a bit more conscientious but still never quite get round to properly addressing the issue – the niggle factor, as Sue Hayward, head of insight at pensions provider Standard Life, described it.
“There’s a little niggle factor in the back of everybody’s head and pensions is in there quite strongly I think and it grows up and it goes back and it grows up,” she told the MRS Financial Services Research conference (London, November 2018).
Standard Life’s own research has shown that most people understand they have a responsibility to ensure their pensions meet their needs, but actual engagement with the industry is low. That started to change in the UK four years ago when the then-Chancellor changed the rules to allow over-55s to withdraw money from their pension pot instead of having to buy an annuity. Initial excitement was followed by confusion “and then quite a lot of fear”. So the industry had some work to do in terms of explaining and reassuring their customers.