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People 'not interested' in pensions, say experts

The traditional concept of pensions as retirement savings will soon be outdated, according to a panel of experts.

Speaking at the Barrnett Waddingham event 'Does DC Need Divine Intervention?', the company's head of employee benefits Damian Stancombe added workplace saving schemes are no longer primarily retirement plans. "In the future people will look at them more as later-life savings vehicles," he said. 

Mark Futcher, head of DC at Barnett Waddingham, emphasised this point. He said this shift means that some employers are re-thinking their contributions to the scheme: "People are thinking, if this is just a savings vehicle, why am I putting into the pot?"

He stressed that not all employers felt this way and there were some who saw pensions contributions as a key part of their relationship with staff. 

Jane Kola, pensions law expert and partner at law firm Wragge and Co, said that both Government and employers have failed to get people engaged with pensions. She put this largely down to a lack of clear information leaving employees baffled about their options. 

"To give people reams of paper in language they don't understand and then expect them to become pensions experts is unrealistic," she said. "We have people in the pensions team at our law firm who are ignorant of the details in their own plans. If they don't understand them, what chance do others have?"

Tricia Collins, group company secretary at engineering firm James Walker, urged companies to educate their employees on their pensions options from day one. "If we can incorporate pensions advice into the recruitment process, that would save people a lot of problems down the line," she said. "Even when people are a year in, that can sometimes be too late and they're already committed to something they don't understand."

The news comes after recent research shows more than two-thirds of employees want employers to offer them financial guidance