Articles - The Pensions World Cup


There was a debate raging about whether England should field a weakened team against Belgium in the World Cup. The thinking is that finishing second in the group may not be a bad thing as England could end up facing an ‘easier’ team later in the tournament. But, I like football and I like pensions so I thought I’d combine the two.

 By Dale Critchley, Policy Manager, Aviva
  
 So, back to England’s weaker team against Belgium. What does this have to do with pensions?
  
 Assuming that losing to Belgium might not be so bad because it could mean England would face easier teams later on was taking a huge gamble on results in other games going a certain way – and the same can be said about some people’s attitude to pension saving.
  
 Thanks to automatic enrolment lots of people are taking the first steps toward qualification for a decent retirement, but for many the contribution rates are too low. The low risk answer is to make the sacrifices that are required now, to generate some extra cash for your Defined Contribution pension. But that’s hard work, a bit like meeting Brazil on the way to the final, so a lot of people are tempted to look for easier alternatives.
  
 One of the great hopes is that an inheritance will provide a people with “a fresh pair of legs” in the second half of their saving lifetime.
  
 I’ve covered this in Actuarial Post previously and it is clear that for millennials this seems attractive. Their parents may well have benefitted from a housing market that has swelled their property wealth, but hoping for an inheritance would be taking a massive gamble on how things will pan out, in a similar way to trying to predict a series of games at the World Cup. If the person you are planning to inherit from lives longer than expected, or requires an extended stay in a care home an inheritance can disappear, leaving a beneficiary with no plan B.
  
 The other statement we hear quite often is “I will just keep working”. I can’t believe that a return to the pre-World Cup era of Victorian Britain is really attractive to anyone, but it’s also impractical for many. People are pessimistic about their mortality but remarkably optimistic about their health in later life. John Motson (BBC football commentator) made the decision to keep working until 72 and that shows the contribution that can be made by older workers. But physical and cognitive decline mean that isn’t an option for everyone.
  
 So to keep the football analogy going, it’s probably a good idea to play the percentages. Treating inheritance as windfall and aiming to retire when you want to, not when you can’t work any longer, means having a plan to build up a pot of personal wealth for later life. Pension schemes will be a major constituent of that wealth.
  
 Trying to plan for the future isn’t easy, whether that’s the route to the World Cup final or your retirement. But it’s a lot easier if you focus on what’s under your control, rather than depending on things you can’t influence.
 
  

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