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This study looks at a group of savers who accessed or considered accessing their pension savings in late 2015 and early 2016, following up one year later to see how their circumstances and perspectives have changed.
It’s the third report in the ‘New choices, big decisions’ series – the previous two reports were:
We re-contacted participants from the initial ‘New choices, big decisions’ study – to explore how their lives have changed over the past 12 months and to understand, with the benefit of hindsight, how they now feel about the choices they’ve made.
In total, 55 of our original 80 participants took part in this follow-up research. We gathered their thoughts through a mix of short telephone and more detailed face-to-face interviews – between November 2016 and January 2017.
Because this longitudinal study covers a significant period of time, it’s allowed a deeper understanding of our participants’ personal lives – and how their individual circumstances affect their decisions at retirement.
Many of our participants have experienced significant life events in the last year. And reflecting on these major life changes really brings home the need for flexibility in retirement solutions.
The research found that savers who have accessed cash from their pension funds using the new pension freedoms don’t regret their decisions, believing the happiness generated from spending the money now – on holidays, cars, home improvements and family – far outweighs any benefit from receiving it as a ‘paltry’ income in the future.
It also shows that even where savers are engaged with their pension, decision making can be challenging. Multiple sources of information on what to do can add confusion rather than making the picture clearer – and can lead to some savers just deciding to take action without necessarily thinking about the long-term.
So the research has some interesting implications for the approach we take to supporting the decision-making process – our Director of Policy and Market Engagement, Darren Philp, said:
“We need to stop just thinking about retirement in terms of getting people to shop around to get the best deal. Because we can’t expect savers to be experts, we need good default options at all stages of the savings journey.
And we need those default options to be well governed and have consumer interests at their heart. Above all savers need someone on their side.”