Pensions Awareness Week is an annual PR-bash from the pensions industry, to try and build awareness among the population. Particularly awareness of the need for a long-term pension plan. It ran 14th-18th September in case you didn’t notice.
Pensions Awareness Week Goes Virtual
Thanks to the ‘rona, of course, it all went online this year. There’s a funky website with lots of video content you can still access. Moreover, there was lots of new information and research published. Much of it designed to shake up the population, although in my view, it should shake up some of the sleepier corners of the industry, too. With so few people understanding so little about pensions, it’s clear the industry needs to communicate better.
Let’s have a look at some of the more interesting research studies.
Research Reveals the Scale of the Challenge
In a virtual session held via Pension Wise, research from the Money and Pensions Service revealed that more than 3 million over 50s were planning to leave retirement planning until the final two years before retirement, or not plan at all. Scary, when you look at how few people regard the State pension as being adequate.
Indeed, during Pensions Awareness Week, on the Wednesday it was deemed to be ‘State Pension Shortfall day’, the point in the year when retirees’ average yearly spending exceeds the state pension income if it was taken on 1 January, according to Just Group analysis.
These findings are evidence of the importance of putting away additional savings and retirement income. Only 17 per cent viewed the state pension as sufficient to live on in retirement.
Additionally, much of the activity surrounding Pensions Awareness Week focused on improving knowledge and understanding, with a particular emphasis on educating members of the risks of pension scams.
Research has driven a number of initiatives, such as the recent FCA campaign focusing on football fans. This launched after research found that 43 per cent of supporters do not know how much is in their pension pot, and that 45 per cent do not know whether an approach about their pension is legitimate or not.
Look out for more to come regarding pensions research and the self-employed, following the severe impact of COVID-19 on pension savings from that sector.
Savers and non-savers alike may have a lot to learn about their pensions, but the industry still has a lot to learn about the individuals it serves. Improving awareness is the first step in creating this dialogue. Pensions Awareness Week may not have made much of an impact on ordinary people’s lives, yet it is important that the industry engages with more and more savers far beyond this week. I hope to do my bit, as ever.