As mandatory workplace pension programmes are being implemented across the countryb s largest employers, with the rest scheduled to follow suit by 2018, firms and financial authorities appear to have reached an impasse over the need for such schemes.
On the one hand, employees cite the financial strain of increased contributions toward a pension fund, as well as the inherent market risks and management fees that come along with it as a hindrance in times of austerity. This is reflected by insurer Avivab s poll of private sector employees, 37% of whom said they would opt out of any pension plan they were automatically enrolled in.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) hopes that the new auto-enrolment programme will combat the downward trend in employee pension programme enrolment, with only 32% of private sector employees actively paying into pensions .
With Pensions minister Steve Webb suggesting that even under the new regulation, which will see pension contributions rise to 8% of qualified income, employees would not receive sufficient income to maintain their standard of living during retirement, particularly those on higher salaries .
Whether you are disillusioned by poorly managed pension funds putting your nest egg at risk, the restricted access to your money for a prolonged period, or simply the thought that you can make better use of your money in a different type of savings vehicle, the need to save for retirement is crucial. In spite of the challenges that come with saving in austere times, as Aviva MD Mark Noble points out, automatic enrolment can be successful if we require b employers, their advisers and the wider industry [to] create sustained communications and engagement in the workplace to encourage employees to saveb .
But that does not appear to be the case at the moment, as employers seem more concerned with complying with new regulation rather than choosing pension programmes that are best suited to their employees.
Regulation to end firmsb cost-based approach to pension schemes , currently possible as a result of vague rules regarding the b minimum standardsb of any pension programme, is a necessary step toward re-assuring employees that the enrolment programme is truly in their best interest.
Regardless of the scepticism surrounding the programme, initiatives to encourage post-retirement savings are a step in the right direction, and further initiatives are necessary to ensure that pensionersb livelihoods are not at risk upon retirement. For once perhaps, a pound today isnb t quite as good as a pound tomorrow.