One in five savers have never checked their pensions, research by The People’s Pension reveals

Nearly a fifth of savers (19 per cent) have never reviewed how much is in their pension savings, new research from the leading workplace pension provider People’s Partnership has revealed.

A survey from the provider of The People’s Pension, conducted by YouGov, also found that two in 10 (21%) savers check their pension just once a year while a fifth (19 per cent) check their retirement savings once a month or more often.

The research also found:

  • Nearly a third (32 per cent) of people don’t know how much they have saved in all of their pension pots.
  • Only one in 10 pension savers had an app for their pension, compared to 9 in 10 people (91 per cent) who use one for banking, around six in 10 (58 per cent) who use an app to order food to be delivered and more than four in 10 (43 per cent) who check their investments on an app.
  • More than six in 10 people (64 per cent would check their savings more often if they had a mobile app for their pension.

David Meliveo, Chief Commercial Officer at People’s Partnership, said:

“At a time when most people aren’t saving enough for retirement, it’s worrying that the vast majority of savers have never checked their pensions – leaving them with no idea how much they’ve saved, or maybe even where it’s saved.

“For most people it’s now an everyday habit to use apps for shopping, banking, or even investing, but when so few pension savers check their savings that way, it’s clear that the industry could do much more to engage their members and help them plan for their future. 

“Through initiatives like our new app and retirement planner, we aim to make it easier for workers to keep track of their savings and help them to make the right financial decisions for their future selves.”

The People’s Pension app allows its 6.7 million members to check how much they have in their account, how the scheme is investing their money, and aims to help them plan financially for their future. The app will be regularly updated to include new features, which will soon include the newly launched Member Rewards, which are special offers and deals available only to members of The People’s Pension.


Savers face being more than £70,000 worse off in retirement due to poor pension transfer decisions

People could be left more than £70,000 poorer in retirement because they don’t understand charges when transferring their pension, according to new research1 from People’s Partnership2, which provides The People’s Pension to more than 6.5 million people across the UK.

Nearly three quarters of people who had recently transferred their pension (72%) didn’t know exactly what the fees for their old pensions were or what they were being charged for their new one. While on in 10 (11%) didn’t think their new pension had any fees or charges.

Analysis3 shows that for a 30-year-old earning £30,000, moving a £10,000 pension pot from a provider charging 0.4% to one charging 0.75%, would leave them £32,894 worse off when they retired at 67. If they moved a £50,000 pot, they would have £59,523 less to live on in retirement. And if the same person is earning £45,000 and moves a £50,000 pension, they will be £72,689 worse off in retirement. The calculations assume ongoing contributions of 8% and wage inflation of 3.5% with investment returns of 5%.

People’s Partnership believes the pension industry needs to be more transparent and should help savers understand key information when transferring their pension, to prevent them from making detrimental financial decisions for their future.

Commenting, Patrick Heath-Lay, Chief Executive Officer at People’s Partnership, said:

“While there are many factors that can make a pension attractive, the two fundamental aspects are investment returns and charges. Unfortunately, very few people know exactly what they are being charged for their pensions and they are being let down by an industry that doesn’t make this information easy to find or understand. If people can’t make an informed decision about the value they are being offered by different providers, they risk losing thousands of pounds from their retirement pots. This lack of transparency is an enormous issue that pensions providers have to address.

“Our research shows the real-world impact of small differences in percentages are incredibly hard to grasp, so the onus is on the pension industry to make sure consumers understand what they are being charged. We are taking direct action to provide our members with more guidance through the transfer process and are creating tools that will support them to make informed decisions that are in their best interests. We passionately believe that there must be an obligation on pension providers to give clearer information to those savers who are considering transferring and the industry must move to provide comparable consumer focused value metrics. ”

People’s Partnership found that only half (50%) of respondents said it was easy to find information on fees and charges from both their old and new pension providers. The research suggests fees aren’t anywhere near as important a consideration as they should be when transferring a pension, and that people don’t appreciate how seemingly small differences in costs can lead to significant differences in real terms.



Rymyni Adams-Taylor, aged 29, from Birmingham, saw an advert pop up on Facebook promoting a simple app to bring all her pensions together. She moved two old pensions into the pension consolidator, still paying into her existing workplace pension.

She did not do any research for two reasons. First, she was not aware that she could consolidate into her existing pensions. She feels that this is not well-known amongst people of her age. Secondly, she feels that all pension companies are the same.

To be honest, it wasn’t something that I’d done any research into. I wasn’t aware that there was more around. But I can’t see what another provider is going to provide that’s going to be a better deal because they’re all basically offering the same thing.”

She had no idea that costs could vary and felt disappointed this was not pointed out to her as part of the process.

“I don’t feel like they gave me that information. Especially for someone like myself, I don’t have experience in dealing with this. I didn’t go to any type of advisor for advice or what the best option was. They sort of enticed me in on the basis that it was easy to navigate and it’s a simple system to use.”

She tried to find her cost on the app and felt that it wasn’t very obvious to find.

“You had to click into a few different things. It wasn’t just on your homepage. I think I clicked four times before I found it.”

Retirees still caught off guard by inflation impact – early findings of unique longitudinal study reveal

Almost a decade after the introduction of Pensions Freedoms1, new research has revealed that retirees still aren’t considering the impact that inflation has on their pension savings.

Leading workplace pension provider People’s Partnership2 and asset manager State Street Global Advisors3 have today release early findings of New Choices, Big Decisions study, The research reveals that despite having experienced the pressures of rising cost of living, people who retired years ago still don’t factor in inflation when accessing their defined contribution pensions, meaning their savings might not go as far they had anticipated.

The latest instalment of the longitudinal study, which has followed the journey of a group of older savers up to and into their retirement since 2015, recommends that stress testing planning tools offered by financial service providers should provide a greater focus on inflation protection. It also says that pension providers should look to strengthen the information they provide on inflation in their customer information and education resources.

The report, which is due to be published in full early next year, highlights concern about the lack of attention given to the 1.1 million4 pension pots already in drawdown. It highlights that certain savers may receive inadequate communication about whether their previously made investment choices are still appropriate today, taking into account changing economic conditions.

The publication of the report coincides with the launch by People’s Partnership, which provides The People’s Pension to 6.5 million savers of a new online retirement planner5 which will enable its members to work out how much money they may need and could have in future.

Phil Brown, director of policy at People’s Partnership, said: “This unique study shows that people don’t necessarily make the right choice and, without support, they tend to develop an inflation “blind spot” in their retirement planning. We mustn’t forget that the recently retired vividly remember interest rates at 15% and above in the 1970s and early ’80s, yet many still don’t factor in inflation when planning their finances. This vital research underlines the need for savers to have access to retirement planning tools and products which factor in inflation and highlight the risks that poses to savings. There is a real danger that some retirees will have less in their pockets over the longer term than they had first anticipated,

“These findings are further evidence that the average saver, especially those in their sixties and seventies, require more support when it comes to accessing their retirement pots, especially those who entered into drawdown before the economy experienced its current challenges.”

Alistair Byrne, head of retirement strategy at State Street, added:

“Our research underlines the challenges individuals face when making decisions about how to access their pension pots. It’s clear they need more support from the industry, and access to well-designed solutions that deliver a balance of flexibility in early retirement and life-long income in later life.”


Retired London cab driver Laurence Collier, 74, from North London is one of the 50 savers to have taken part in New Choices, Big Decisions. Although he has four pensions and describes himself as comfortable in retirement, he admits he regrets not seeking professional advice at the time.

He says: “Probably one of the biggest mistakes I made was not building in protections against inflation in when I decided how to take most of my pensions – I only have one where I haven’t been affected by inflation. I didn’t think it through, and I wish I had taken proper advice as I didn’t go to a financial adviser.

“Although I’m in a good financial position, it would have been nice to have been better protected against inflation – that would’ve been the cherry on the cake.”


Plans to improve retirement options for savers welcomed

Plans to improve retirement product options for savers have been described as sensible by People’s Partnership1, which provides The People’s Pension to more than six million people across the UK,

Commenting on Government proposals to improve access to decumulation products for Defined Contribution savers2, Phil Brown, director of policy at the provider of the UK’s largest master trust

Speaking after the deadline for the consultation closed, he said: “As the typical automatic enrolment saver gets older, we think it’s crucial that the decumulation options for these workers are significantly improved.

“Although more details are required, there are real potential benefits from the proposed reforms from the Department for Work and Pensions. At face value, the evidence suggests that a strong steer towards a suitable product may improve decision making for a significant proportion of defined contribution pension savers.

“We see a framework in which people are free to take money from their defined contribution pension savings via a good quality product as a sensible plan. Automatic enrolment has been a tremendous success over the past decade, but it’s vital that these 11 million savers are able to easily access their savings when they need to.”


Making decumulation simple, straightforward, and clear for all

Every year, around 600,000 pensions are accessed for the first time. These new retirees begin the complex process of decumulation – getting rid of the assets they’ve built up in their pension pots to maintain their standard of living. But surprisingly, before selecting how to withdraw their pension, less than half of retirees seek professional advice.[i]

The cost of advice isn’t the only issue

ABI research found that 72% of customers would not pay for financial advice for various reasons. The first and most significant issue is the cost of regular advice and the absence of other choices. According to ABI polls, nearly half of those surveyed (46%)[ii] prefer one-off advice if it were easily available, while just 12% prefer continuous advice.

However, money is not the only concern. Pension Wise offers free guidance, but data suggests that just 14%[iii] to 22%[iv] of those retiring use it before accessing their money.

Participants in our five-year longitudinal study, ‘New Choices, Big Decisions’, told Ignition House researchers that retirement had become ‘scary’ to contemplate. They don’t seek advice because they believe pensions are too complicated for them to grasp, or because they are naturally concerned about the sustainability of their investments.

The pitfalls of no advice

More than half (53%) of individuals who accessed their pension savings in the previous 5 years claimed their 25% tax-free lump amount.[ii] According to our findings, individuals are making these and similar decisions without considering the implications. Participants told us that taking the cash was the easy decision because it was tax-free, that they considered the lump sum as a mid-life “bonus,” or that they “simply didn’t think too much about it.” 

Many people didn’t see their option as a retirement income decision, and many are unaware of the consequences of decumulating into cash. They may be unaware of the possible effect on their long-term earnings.

Shifting from automatic to manual

During the accumulation stage, the majority will be invested in a scheme default fund or glidepath, so they don’t have to think too hard about it.

In comparison, once they reach retirement, people have the more difficult task of converting a pot of cash into an income. Our research shows that many people make pension decisions without adequate thinking or comprehension and without advice.

We trust individuals to be risk managers, actuaries, and investment gurus, and you’ll probably need to be a little bit of everything to produce a decent outcome. We, as an industry, place unrealistic expectations on individuals to make complex decisions for themselves.

FCA solutions fail to address all the issues

The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA’s) recent retirement outcomes review provided a thorough examination of the issues that people confront when collecting a retirement income, but the remedies presented did not adequately address the issues raised.

Consider investment pathways. They can help individuals from mistakenly decumulating into cash when they use flexi-access drawdown. However, they don’t address the other significant risks. These include:

  • Withdrawing too quickly and running out of money
  • or withdrawing too slowly and not enjoying the retirement they had planned.

Pathways, therefore, aren’t a sound strategy for decumulation in occupational pensions.

Customisable, simple, and easy to compare

Most individuals want pensions that don’t require them to have financial skills to work successfully. Affordable, clear decumulation products that keep people invested for growth in their early retirement years while providing greater assurance as time passes. These pensions must be customisable while being simple to maintain on their own and easy to compare with other pensions available.

The government’s strategy to increase the number of pension savers has proved enormously effective. The industry’s focus must now be on providing pensions and services that assist people in achieving the sustainable retirement they deserve. Positive pension outcomes should not be limited to those who can afford guidance; they should be accessible to everyone.







This article was written when we were B&CE, before we changed our name to People’s Partnership in November 2022.

Pension savers need more support from the industry before making big decisions

Older retirement savers need far more support from the pensions industry before making the “huge” decision about how to best use their savings pots, according to B&CE1, provider of The People’s Pension.

Speaking at the PLSA Annual Conference in Liverpool, Phil Brown, Director of Policy at B&CE, which supplies pensions to nearly six million people or 1 in 5 UK workers, said that current decumulation options favoured by pension companies meant that millions of ordinary workers were faced with complex decisions that many aren’t qualified to make.

He said that the unique longitudinal study, ‘New Choices, Big Decisions’2, that The People’s Pension first commissioned following the introduction of Pensions Freedoms in 20153, should be seen by the industry as evidence from which it can offer consumers alternative retirement solutions, such as pseudo-default retirement products.

He also challenged the industry to do more to help consumers not only make decisions on how to make their Defined Contribution savings last throughout retirement, but also to provide clearer details, so they are better informed before transferring their pension pots.

Mr Brown says: “After buying a home, how to use their defined contribution pension savings is the biggest decision many people will make – it’s huge. Through automatic enrolment we hold people’s hands and put them in pensions when they join companies, but then assume that they will be super engaged and make complex retirement choices that will impact their retirement for 30 or more years.

“The reality is that to make informed retirement choices, consumers need to be part financial adviser, part fund manager, part economist, part tax accountant, part doctor and maybe part futurologist. When somebody buys a house, we don’t expect them to do the property conveyancing, yet when it comes to what to do with their pension pots, we expect them to navigate an even more complicated area, despite not being equipped with the rights skills.

“Our ‘New Choices, Big Decisions’ research showed that many savers run out of money in retirement because they don’t understand either their own longevity or the impact inflation has on those savings.”   

He has also called for pensions dashboards, which are due to be introduced in 2023, to display a scheme’s value for money credentials at the earliest opportunity.

He said: “The pensions transfers market is creating member detriment as members are, in some cases, using the wrong sort of information to make transfer decisions. It’s crucial that savers are aware of the impact of charges when brand or other factors are the main driver behind a transfer. We need to change the discussion to one about ‘Value for Money’ and dashboards must display this information as soon as possible to prevent poor decision making that is detrimental to member’s retirement outcomes.”


Is auto-enrolment ensuring an adequate retirement for everyone?

Overall, we’re in a considerably better position than we would have been had auto-enrolment not been implemented. However, problems persist, particularly for Generation X and millennials.

Forecasting the required income and attainable lifestyle

With the help of analysis from the Pensions Policy Institute, we examined existing pension savings for thousands of people and utilised the data to generate realistic pension forecasts1 for everyone at state pension age. The anticipated retirement earnings were then compared to broadly recognised definitions1 of an appropriate retirement income. As our benchmarks, we used the Pensions Commission’s target replacement rates2 and the PLSA’s retirement living standards.3 The replacement rates represent the expected proportion of work income required in retirement, whereas the PLSA standards estimate the lifestyle you may afford with a certain income.

A baseload retirement income

Policymakers understood from the start of auto-enrolment that saving 8% of band earnings and the state pension would not provide a suitable retirement income.2 This is supported by our research. Auto-enrolment is performing as planned, providing the millennial group with a baseload retirement income that falls short of the primary adequacy measures previously mentioned.

It’s hardly surprising that our research reveals that just 27% of millennial households are on course to meet their target replacement rate – two thirds of a typical median earner’s pre-retirement income. Retirement income projections for millennials are lower than those for Generation X and baby boomers, but millennials have more time to save if they wish to or if auto-enrolment is reformed.

The outlook for baby boomers and Generation X

The situation is different for baby boomers and for Generation X. Both groups’ projected retirement earnings are, on average, higher than millennials’.

Far more baby boomers are on course to earn an adequate retirement income, but headline figures mask the disparity. According to our findings, 60% are on track to meet their target replacement rate. This is mostly owing to the presence of defined benefit (DB) pensions, typically extremely large DB pensions, which are less prevalent in other generations. The outcomes are predictably worse for individuals of the boomer generation who did not have access to workplace savings during their working life. For these people, auto-enrolment has arrived too late. It means they won’t rely only on the state pension, but it likely won’t get them close to an adequate income.

Meanwhile, Generation X is in difficulty, with our research showing 35% of households on course to hit their target replacement rate, according to our research. While Generation X’s projected retirement incomes are larger on average than those of millennials, many more are significantly below the Pensions Commission’s target replacement rate. They most likely do not have enough time to make up lost ground because they did not save enough previously. The research substantially confirms the notion that Generation X has been stuck between the elimination of DB and the implementation of auto-enrolment.

The argument in favour of increased contributions will have to wait

So, what next? It’s obvious that with inflation high and a deep recession forecast, no one should be contemplating increases in statutory minimum contributions in the short term. Realistically, we are looking at a pause until economic normality returns. If there is a case for higher contributions, it’s going to have to wait. The pension sector should use this pause to  engage with policymakers, discuss next steps, and build a consensus that runs wider than the pension industry. 

Setting explicit goals for the pension system

We also believe it is crucial that policymakers and stakeholders agree on a set of objectives for what the pension system is meant to accomplish before recommending a solution to the issues we’ve highlighted. The Pensions Commission of 2005 contended that the system, which consists of a reformed state pension and auto-enrolment, purposely delivers results below the adequacy threshold for the majority of people.2 And that is what the policy is currently designed to deliver.

We don’t think there is much mileage in pointing out that higher contributions will deliver higher retirement incomes without gaining a consensus on what the pension system as a whole should be trying to achieve. Setting objectives for the system would enable a debate about what the right level of saving is for different groups, we should be explicit about what level of income the pension system should target for the average individual. That should enable a much more constructive debate about whether we are getting auto-enrolment right.


This article was written when we were B&CE, before we changed our name to People’s Partnership in November 2022.

Will pension savings be adequate for retirement?

The figures speak for themselves

Since 2012, 10.6m employees have enrolled in a workplace scheme, with an additional total of £28.5bn saved into UK pension pots each year.* But there remains the question of whether the average auto-enrolled member is saving enough for their retirement.

In its 2005 review, the Pensions Commission was clear that at least 16% of qualifying earnings – double the current minimum contribution – would be required to provide an adequate retirement income, with half expected to come from a workplace pension and the other half from additional voluntary saving.**

A ‘basic’ or ‘comfortable’ retirement?

But new research shows this hasn’t happened. Our report, Pension Adequacy: A Pension Saver’s Perspective,*** finds that most auto-enrolled pension savers and employers are anchored to the minimum rate, with most savers wrongly believing that they are on track for a ‘moderate’ or ‘comfortable’ standard of retirement living, based on the PLSA Retirement Living Standards. Just 7% of savers are aware that the current minimum contribution will only provide a ‘basic’ retirement income, and worryingly, 4 in 10 people believe that because the contribution rates have been set by the government, they are saving enough.

Additionally, the idea of additional voluntary saving is far from reality; almost half (43%) of all savers haven’t considered paying more into their pension, almost half (46%) don’t know they’re allowed to pay in more than the minimum, and two-thirds (64%) of people have less than £10,000 in additional savings.

If you accept the idea that contribution levels should be increased to prevent poor saver outcomes, questions remain:

  • How much should this increase be?
  • Who should bear the burden?
  • How do we encourage people to pay more if they can afford to?
  • Should it be made easier for them to pay more as they get older?

With many savers not knowing they’re allowed to increase their contributions or how to pay more in, our research is clear that more can be done to help savers understand the options open to them.

What needs to be done for a positive saver outcome?

There’s a growing consensus across the pension industry that an increase in contributions is required to lead to positive saver outcomes. But with so many questions around how this could or should be done, we’re calling on the government to set out plans for a review of the minimum contributions required for auto-enrolment.  We’re also asking them to outline a timeline for implementing the recommendations of the 2017 automatic enrolment review once economic circumstances allow.

While millions of people are rightly concerned about the increasing cost of living, a very real problem is building up for millions in their retirement and it is crucial that the government comes up with a plan to tackle this.

The deeply troubling findings of this research reveal that millions of hardworking people are simply not saving enough for their retirement. While affordability obviously plays a role in this, the research shows that in most cases, people believe that because they’re saving what they’ve been told to by those who run the country, they’re saving enough. While auto-enrolment has had a truly successful first decade, government must now plan ahead to ensure that over the next 10 years, auto-enrolment members are saving enough to provide for a comfortable retirement.

It’s clear that some need to save more for their retirement and the government needs to act to ensure that the minimum contribution level helps them do this. This is something that must be addressed to ensure the continuing success of auto-enrolment.

*Department for Work and Pensions figures (2021)

**Pensions Commission (2005)

*** Pension Adequacy: A Pension Saver’s Perspective report, prepared by Ignition House and published by B&CE in March 2022.


This article was written when we were B&CE, before we changed our name to People’s Partnership in November 2022.

Pandemic has helped workers to save more – latest research

Nearly three in 10 people (29 per cent) have been able to save more money since the beginning of COVID-19, and latest research shows how the pandemic has impacted people differently depending on what jobs they have.

A YouGov survey, conducted on behalf of The People’s Pension1, shows that more than a third (37%) of those described as ABC1s, who tend to occupy managerial and supervisory positions, have been able to save more since March 2020, compared to 20% of C2DE workers, who are typically in manual and lower paid jobs2. The regions where the highest proportion of people said they were able to save more include; Yorkshire and the Humber (36%), East Midlands (35%), South East (35%) and Wales (33%). Whereas the regions least likely to have saved more are: North East (20%), Northern Ireland (22%), North West (23%) and South West (24%).

The poll also shows that 1 in 20 UK adults (5% ) have increased the amount they save into their pension since the beginning of the pandemic (March 2020) with 6% of ABC1s achieving this, compared to 3% C2DEs.

The survey of 2,163 adults , conducted as furlough came to an end, shows that since the pandemic began:
• 2% have been left out of work
• 9% say they have earned significantly less
• Two thirds of pension savers (67% haven’t felt the need to engage with their pension
• 3% withdrew money from their pensions

The survey follows recent figures from the Department for Work and Pensions3 that show that overall saving into UK workplace pensions in 2020 rose by £5.5bn to £105.9bn.

Phil Brown, director of policy and external affairs at B&CE, provider of The People’s Pension, said: “This research confirms that the economic fallout from the pandemic has impacted people differently, depending on how much they earn and where they live. It’s very interesting to see that nearly three in 10 adults (29%) have been able to save money due to the fact they have spent a lot less on holidays and going out.

“The results of our survey also reinforce the importance of saving into a pension, something that people have continued to do during a time of great economic uncertainty.”


Why a pension statement season might negatively impact engagement with savers

Encouraging more people to engage with their pensions is something everybody in the industry should agree with and we very much welcome initiatives which will help improve this.

It’s been known for some time that a pension statement season – when all providers would be compelled to send out statements during the same narrow window – was being discussed within the Department of Work and Pensions. Now, following the Pensions Minister’s recent address during the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association conference, we know that this is an idea which could become a reality.

It’s widely known that many people don’t usually read their pension statements. Schemes send them and too often they languish unread. There’s little point in the simplified statements, which will be introduced in a year’s time, especially if they get sent out and are unread like previous communications. Policymakers are of the belief that a pension statement season will prompt more people to engage with their pensions but there are genuine concerns within the industry that any such policy might lead to unintended consequences.

Questions to be answered

Those of us charged with delivering such a significant change have questions about how it would really work and what the impacts of a statement season would be on savers.

As the biggest independent master trust in the UK, The People’s Pension has 5.4 million members. If we were to send out statements to all our members during a month, that would be 180,000 statements posted a day. It costs roughly £1 per paper statement, a figure that doesn’t vary much between providers. So, if the government mandates paper statements it could cause additional costs, which may be passed to pension savers through charges.

Then there’s the likely impact on customer service teams, rather like the one I oversee. Currently we phase sending out statements due to the increase in contact from customers after they’ve received them as, often, the notification of a statement acts as a trigger to transact with us.

We expect that a statement season will concentrate all the customer contacts into a short window. This could lead to a saver’s first engagement with their pension provider being a negative one as they may have to wait for an unacceptable period or be unable to get through.

There’s often an assumption that you can just scale up and scale down these operations to meet demand, but sadly that’s not how it works. We’re administering people’s life savings and you need to be able to trust the people you have doing that. Trust means training, knowledge, skills and expertise and that takes time. There isn’t a pool of people out there you can just draw on at short notice to fill gaps in your operation – especially if every other pension provider has the same problem.

Potential for saver frustration

It’s likely that the main impact of a statement season will be saver frustration. There also won’t be a major lift in engagement when measured over the course of a year – at least not for some time. Concentrating engagement into a short period will overload contact centres and degrade the experience people have talking to their pension provider.

People contact us for a variety of reasons; some to see how their savings are doing, while others ring up because they are dealing with the death of a family member or because they need quick access to their savings. It’s people like this we’re especially worried about as an overloaded call centre could prevent them from getting through when they need support the most.

We understand the intention behind this proposal, but we remain concerned that the government’s plan to improve engagement will result in frustration rather than meaningful engagement.


This article was written when we were B&CE, before we changed our name to People’s Partnership in November 2022.