Survey of DC pension scheme members

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1 Survey of DC pension scheme members A research report on understanding, engagement and perception among members of defined contribution (DC) occupational and work-based personal pension schemes

2 Contents Executive summary page 4 About this survey page 6 Active DC work-based members page 8 Deferred DC work-based members page 14 Individuals who have refused the offer of a work-based pension page 16 Recent annuity purchasers page 18 2

3 Executive summary This report details the key findings from The Pensions Regulator s 2012 survey of DC pension scheme members. Questions were included in Ipsos MORI s Capibus survey, a nationally representative sample of adults aged 16 and over. Defined contribution pension schemes are already an important part of the pension landscape and are set to become even more significant as a result of automatic enrolment. The UK pensions landscape is complex and comprises a range of provisions including the basic state pension, additional state pension (SERPS/S2P), public and private sector arrangements (including occupational and work-based personal pension schemes, group personal pension plans and personal pension schemes). The pensions landscape has continued to change in recent years, with the ongoing closure of defined benefit (DB) schemes and a growth in DC provision. Work-based pension schemes comprise both trustee and provider managed arrangements. Some employers contribute to personal pension arrangements that they do not themselves sponsor. The introduction of automatic enrolment will result in the number of people saving in DC schemes rising dramatically. The Pensions Regulator ( the regulator ) wants schemes used for automatic enrolment to produce a good outcome for the members. To support this, the regulator has recently published six DC principles, which, if present in a DC scheme, increase the likelihood of members receiving a good income in retirement*. We want to see all schemes used for automatic enrolment encompassing these six key principles. This report summarises the results of research to understand members experience of DC schemes. It paints a mixed picture and one that is not always consistent. The results are based on members stated experience; cross-referencing responses with schemes experiences and perceptions was not feasible. It is important to note that particularly in relation to recently retired members the sample size is relatively low (104) and therefore the findings need to be treated with caution. * For further information see The Pensions Regulator s approach to the regulation of employers and schemes: 3

4 The key findings of the survey, bringing together themes evident in the results, are as follows: Active DC work-based members Four out of five active members (78%) consider their personal or occupational pension provision to be a main source of their retirement income More than one in ten active members (15%) did not know that the pension income from a DC pension cannot be guaranteed because its value depends on investment performance and annuity rates Two thirds (69%) of active members agreed that their employer has chosen a good scheme (of which they are a member), while a quarter (23%) neither agreed nor disagreed and 6% disagreed Just under half (45%) of active members have looked at their fund value of their pension or their forecast pension income in the last 12 months Nearly a third of active members (30%) stated that someone making clear how much they need to save for retirement was likely to be the most effective method to encourage them to take more interest in their pension Over half (54%) of active members felt that it would be easy to check if the correct contribution payments have been made into their scheme Nearly three-quarters (71%) of active members reported that they have at some point checked their scheme contributions are correct. Deferred DC work-based members Four out of five (81%) deferred members had ensured that their scheme held the correct contact details for them Almost a third (30%) of members reported that they had sought advice regarding what to do with their deferred pension Half recall (53%) being offered the option of transferring their pension out to another scheme. Refused the offer of a workbased pension Employees who declined the offer of a DC workbased pension reported short job tenure or the contributions not being affordable as the main reasons for not joining an offered scheme. Recent annuity purchasers Over two thirds (70%) recalled being informed of the Open Market Option ( OMO ) by their pension provider Over three in five were aware that their health and lifestyle could have entitled them to an increased annuity rate (65%) or that they could buy an annuity to protect against inflation (61%) As a method for saving for retirement almost half (46%) stated that they would recommend personal savings and investments, whilst a similar proportion (42%) would recommend a pension scheme. 4

5 About this survey Background and objectives The regulator has a strategic theme to reduce the risks to DC scheme members as set out in our Corporate Plan *. As part of our work we monitor levels of understanding and engagement amongst members of DC pension schemes through our survey of DC pension scheme members, the objectives for this research included: Amongst all non-retired members of DC workbased schemes To understand how confident they are regarding retirement and making related decisions. Amongst active members of DC workbased schemes To establish the extent to which members understand their scheme and feel they can make informed decisions To explore the type of information they look for on communications they receive and their understanding of charges. Amongst deferred members of DC workbased schemes Amongst those that have refused an offer of a pension To explore why they did not take it up. Amongst those that have taken an annuity from a DC work-based scheme To understand the process they went through and whether they receive what they expected to. Methodology Ipsos MORI was appointed to conduct quantitative research and placed questions on their Capibus survey, a nationally representative sample of adults aged 16 + in Great Britain. The survey was based on a random location design and interviewing is spread over a large geographical area rather than clustered around a few centres. In Britain it uses up to 180 sampling points randomly selected every week and employ ACORN to estimate quota controls specific to each interview location. Rim weighting is used to weight data to NRS defined profile. Fieldwork was conducted between February and March To understand whether they recall about any changes to charges and any changes they have made to the scheme. * 5

6 A number of screening questions were asked to identify individuals who met the following subsample criteria: Active DC work-based members individuals enrolled into a defined contribution scheme offered by their current employer and to which the employer makes contributions Deferred DC work-based member individuals who have a defined contribution scheme held with a previous employer to which contributions are no longer paid (either by the former employer or member) Refused the offer of a work-based pension individuals who were offered a pension by their employer (any type) but decided not to join Recent annuity purchaser individuals who had purchased an annuity from a defined contribution scheme within the last 3 years. Individuals can build up a number of pension pots over their lifetime and, as such, could be an active member of one scheme whilst being a deferred member of another. Therefore, the sub-samples above are not mutually exclusive; respondents were able to answer for multiple schemes as long as they met the criteria above. Table 1 shows the screening profile and weighting for each sub-sample. The recent annuity purchaser sample underwent a multi-phased screening approach to firstly identify if individuals have or have had a DC work-based scheme and secondly if they had taken an annuity in the last 3 years. The incident rate of individuals who had taken an annuity within three years was lower than expected. The screening questions for this aspect of the results were run over 14 weeks of omnibus waves in order to achieve a sample size of 104. Therefore, the base size for this audience was lower than we expected and results for this audience should be treated with caution. Table 1 Screening profile and weighting (2012 DC member survey: all respondents) Sub-sample Pre-screened sample Screened sample Weighted sample Active DC work-based member Deferred DC work-based member Refused the offer of a pension Recent annuity purchaser * * Caution: low base size 6

7 Active DC work-based members Private pensions are considered a key source of retirement income for four out of five individuals (78%) with a DC scheme. Retirement confidence A quarter (24%) of active DC members are confident that pensions will provide an adequate income in retirement. Active DC members were asked a series of questions about how they viewed their current pension arrangements as part of their wider retirement plans. Four out of five (78%) stated that personal/company pensions would be one of their main sources of retirement. Whilst it is not statistically significant there are indications that members who have previously held a defined benefit pension were more likely to regard personal/company pensions as their main retirement income source. Nearly a quarter of members (22%) felt that the state pension would be a main income source. Table 2 Main source of income when retired ( What do you think your main income sources will be when you retire? ) Income source All active members (199) Personal/company pension 78% State pension 22% Personal savings/investments 12% Property 7% Inheritance 6% Other 4% Don t know 4% 7

8 Whilst the majority felt they would be reliant on their state and personal/company pensions, there was low confidence in their potential provision. Overall, a quarter of members (24%) felt confident that pensions would provide an adequate retirement income, 41% were uncertain and third (32%) not confident (chart 1). Chart 1 Confidence that state pension and personal/company pensions will provide an adequate retirement income 8% 16% 41% 18% 14% 2% Extremely confident Not confident Confident Not at all confident Neutral Don t know Scheme knowledge and attitude Two thirds (69%) of active DC work-based members believe that their employer has chosen a good scheme. Table 3 outlines member understanding of some of the basic characteristics of a DC scheme. Awareness was highest regarding contributions levels being a key factor in determining the size of their pension fund, four out of five members (80%) definitely knew this and a further 14% has some understanding. Awareness was lowest regarding using their fund to purchase an income. Over two thirds (70%) had some idea or definitely knew that they could buy an annuity at retirement, 22% did not know at all. For some members the process of retirement would be a long way off and therefore it is arguable that knowledge of annuity would naturally be lower than other knowledge questions. 8

9 Table 3 Knowledge of DC scheme characteristics All active members (199) That the amount you pay in is a key factor in determining the size of your pension fund Your pension income when you retire cannot be guaranteed because its value depends on investment performance and annuity rates The money you pay into your pension is invested for you in a fund When you retire you can buy an income know as an annuity Yes, I definitely knew this I had some understanding of this I had a vague idea of this No, I didn t know this 80% 14% 2% 3% 71% 14% 5% 10% 71% 15% 5% 9% 54% 16% 8% 22% Just over two thirds (69%) of active work-based DC members felt that their employer had chosen a good scheme (table 4). Those that felt their employer offered a good scheme were asked to elaborate why they believe it was good. Over a third (36%) stated their scheme was good because of scheme performance; a quarter (24%) because they felt their employer valued them and 15% because employer contributions were high. Table 4 Belief that employer has chosen a good scheme (Agree/disagree with the statement: I believe that my employer has chosen a good pension scheme ) Opinion All active members (199) Strongly agree 39% Slightly agree 30% Neither agree nor disagree 23% Slightly disagree 3% Strongly disagree 3% Don t know 3% 9

10 Scheme engagement Just under half (45%) of active DC work-based members have looked at their fund value in the last 12 months. Overall seven out of ten (71%) active DC work-based members have reviewed some aspect of their pension in the last 12 months. A quarter (26%) of members have logged into an online service and 58% have looked at their annual statement. However, 29% of active members have not looked at any form of information about their pension over the last 12 months. When reviewing their pension information, members are most likely to look at the total value of their fund and their estimated pension income at retirement. Two thirds (65%) of those who have looked at their pension in the last 12 months have looked at their total fund value, this equates to 45% of all active DC members. Over a third (35%) of members also felt that total fund value was the most important piece of information to look at (table 5). Estimated pension income at retirement was also considered a high priority. Just under half (45%) of all active members had looked at this figure in the past 12 months and 34% felt it was the most important piece of information. Nearly two out of five (38%) active members had checked the contributions paid into the scheme over the last year. Almost a third (29%) had looked at the breakdown of contributions paid by the employer/ employee. One in five (21%) active DC members has looked at the charges associated with their scheme. However, as table 9 shows, awareness of actual charges is limited. Members were provided with a number of potential circumstances which may encourage them to take more interest in their pension. Nearly a third of members (30%) stated that someone making clear how much they need to save for retirement was likely to be the most effective method. One in five (20%) requested clear communications from their provider and 20% the ability to talk to someone. Table 5 Pension information reviewed in the past 12 months ( Which if any of the following have you read? And which of the following is the most important? Asked only to those who had looked at information in the past 12 months) All active members (199) Which, if any have you read in the past 12 months? Of those who have looked at something in the last 12 months (135) Rebased to represent all active members (199) Which is the most important? Of those who have looked at something in the last 12 months (135) The total value of my fund 65% 45% 35% The estimated pension income at retirement 64% 45% 34% The contributions paid in over the last year 54% 38% 7% The growth of my fund over the last year 47% 33% 14% The breakdown of contributions paid by employer/employee 42% 29% 3% The fund which were invested in 34% 24% 2% The charges associated with my scheme 30% 21% 4% 10

11 Table 6 Future engagement ( Which of the following would most encourage you to take more interest in your pension? ) Statement All active members (199) Someone making clear to me how much I need to save for my retirement Being able to talk to someone so I understand pensions better 30% 20% Clear communication from my pension provider 20% Clearer communication from my employer 10% None of these 14% Don t know 6% Scheme contributions Two thirds (67%) of active DC members have at some point checked their scheme contributions are correct. Active DC members were asked a series of questions about checking and reviewing their scheme contributions. Overall, 67% of active DC members had checked at some point that either their contribution deductions or scheme payments were correct (table 7). Under a quarter (21%) of all active DC members claim to always check that their scheme contributions are correct. Table 7 Review of scheme contributions ( Thinking about your pension contributions, which of the following have you ever checked? ) Statement All active members (199) Checked your employer has deducted the correct amount from your pay Whether the correct amount of employer and employee contributions have been paid into your pension scheme 54% 31% None of the above 29% Don t know 4% Over half (54%) of active DC members felt that it would be either easy or very easy to check contribution payments made into their scheme. One in five members (20%) thought it would not be easy (table 8). 11

12 Table 8 Perceived ease of finding scheme contribution information ( How easy do you think it would be to find out if the correct contributions have been paid into your scheme? ) Statement All active members (199) Very easy 36% Easy 18% Neither easy nor difficult 26% Not easy 11% Not at all easy 9% These findings suggest that a high proportion of active members have either checked contributions or feel they have the ability to if they desire. Scheme charges A third of members (30%) did not know there were any charges on their pension fund. Under a third (30%) of active DC members stated that they had at least some idea of the extent of charges levied against their fund (table 9). However, when asked what the annual percentage of charges levied against their fund responses widely. Of those that stated awareness of charges a third (35%) believed the annual charge was between 0-2% of the fund value, 17% between 2-3%, 19% above 3% and 29% stated that they did not know. Table 9 Knowledge of charges levied on members ( To what extent are you aware of the charges levied by your pension fund? ) Statement All active members (199) I definitely know what my charges are 12% I know there are some charges and have some idea what they are I know there are some charges but have no idea how much they are 18% 38% I did not know there were any charges 32% 12

13 Deferred DC work-based members Four out of five (81%) deferred members had ensured that their scheme held the correct contact details for them and just over half recall being offered the ability to transfer their pension. Respondents were screened to identify those who have a deferred work-based DC pension scheme (setup by the employer but to which the employer no longer makes contributions). Individuals were a mix of those that have other schemes to which they actively make contributions and those that do not make contributions into any scheme at present. There was no significant difference of responses between these groups regarding the following questions. Approximately four out of five (81%) deferred DC members stated that their scheme held the correct contact information for them. However, it should be noted that this figure includes both those that have actively changed their details due to a change of address, telephone, etc. and those that have not updated details as they have had no reason to (for example have not changed address). Nearly a third (30%) of deferred DC members stated that they had sought some form of (either formal or informal) advice regarding what to do with their scheme. Only 7% had looked at changing the funds or risk profile of the scheme. One in ten (10%) had noticed whether charges associated with the scheme had changed since they became a deferred member. 13

14 Table 10 Activities undertaken ( Since you left the employer which you had your pension scheme with, have you done any of the following? ) Statement Sought advice regarding what to do with the scheme Looked into transferring the funds into another scheme Noticed whether charges associated with the scheme have changed Looked into changing the funds or risk profile of the scheme All deferred members (195) 30% 24% 10% 7% None of the above 48% Over half (53%) of deferred members recalled that their pension scheme had communicated to them that they had the option to transfer their pension to a different provider. Note that this is member recall; it was not possible to validate this against a member s actual scheme. Table 11 Recollection of transfer communication ( Have you been informed by the pension scheme that you can transfer your pension to a different provider if you want to? ) Statement All deferred members (195) Yes 53% No 44% Don t know 3% 14

15 Individuals who have refused the offer of a work-based pension Perceived length of job tenure and contribution affordability cited as the main reasons why employees refuse the offer of a work-based pension. Respondents were screened to identify individuals who had been offered any form of work-based pension (for example a defined contribution scheme or a defined benefit scheme) in the past either by either a current or past employer. Of those who recalled refusing a pension offered, 31% stated that it was a defined benefit scheme, 29% a defined contribution scheme. Two fifths (41%) could not recall the scheme type. Overall, the perception that the individual was not going to be in the job for very long was stated by one out of five (21%) as the main reason for refusing a pension offered. 19% stated that refusal related to an inability to afford their employee contributions. Several non take-up barriers are likely to be removed by automatic enrolment, such as not knowing what options to take (10%), not getting round to filling in forms (6%) and lack of knowledge regarding setup processes (4%). 15

16 Table 12 Rationale for refusing work-based pension offered by employer ( Which, if any, of the following were reasons you chose not to take up the pension scheme offered? ) Statement All whom refused pension offered by employer (355) I was not going to be in the job for very long 21% I could not afford to contribute myself 19% It did not offer value for money 14% I did not have confidence in pensions 12% I did not know much about pensions 10% I was not sure what options to take 10% Retirement is too far away for me to bother about now 9% I didn t think it was worth the hassle 8% I did not get round to filling out the form 6% The employer contributions were too low 5% I did not know how the setup process worked 4% 16

17 Recent annuity purchasers Open Market Option (OMO) and annuity purchase 70% of annuity purchasers recall being informed of the OMO by their provider. Respondents were screened to identify those who had purchased an annuity from a defined contribution pension scheme in the past three years. Over two thirds (70%) of annuity purchasers stated that they recalled being informed by their provider that they could purchase an annuity from a different provider, commonly known as the open market option (OMO). One in five (21%) stated they were not offered the OMO by their provider and 8% could not recall. Just under two thirds (62%) of recent annuity purchasers stated that they had obtained annuity quotes from providers other than their original provider. Overall, 47% of recent annuity purchasers took the OMO. Out of the 64 individuals who obtained an annuity quote from a provider other than their original provider, 48 chose the OMO. Table 13 Retirees who have taken the OMO in last 3 years ( Did you take the open market option and purchase an annuity from a different provider? ) Statement All retirees who have purchased an annuity in past 3 years (104) Yes 47% No 43% Don t know 10% Over two thirds (69%) of annuity purchasers stated that once they had made a product and provider choice the setup process was easy. 17

18 Table 14 Annuity setup process ( Once you selected a suitable annuity product and provider, how easy was it to setup? ) Statement All annuity purchasers (104) Very easy 53% Easy 16% Neither easy nor difficult 10% Difficult 4% Very difficult 8% Don t know 9% Annuity purchasers were asked about their awareness of factors and product features that could affect the size of the retirement income they received (table 15). Just over three in five were aware that their health and lifestyle could have entitled them to an increased annuity rate (65%) or that they could buy an annuity to protect against inflation (61%). Table 15 Awareness of factors that could affect retirement income ( Were you aware of any of the following? ) Statement That your health/lifestyle could have entitled you to an increased annuity rate That you could buy an annuity to provide for a partner or dependants if you had an early death That you could buy an annuity to protect against inflation All annuity purchasers (104) 65% 71% 61% 18

19 Opinions on retirement income and saving Nearly three out of five (57%) of recent annuity purchasers received an income which was about what they expected or higher. When asked to reflect on the annual pension recent annuity purchasers received the majority (57%) felt that it was about what they expected it to be or higher. 24% felt their annual income was a little lower than expected and 14% much lower than expected. Table 16 Retirement income ( Was the annual pension you received from this scheme ) Statement All annuity purchasers (104) Much higher than you expected it to be 4% A little higher than you expected it to be 18% About what you expected it to be 35% A little lower than you expected it to be 24% Much lower than you expected it to be 14% Don t know 5% Recent annuity purchasers were asked whether they would recommend certain methods to someone saving for retirement. Almost half (46%) stated that they would recommend personal savings and investments, whilst a similar proportion (42%) would recommend a pension scheme and 43% property investments. 19

20 Table 17 Saving for retirement advice ( If someone asked you today how they should save for retirement which, if any, of the following would you recommend? ) Method All annuity purchasers (104) Personal savings/investments 46% Property investments 43% Pension schemes 42% None of the above 10% 20

21 How to contact us Napier House Trafalgar Place Brighton BN1 4DW T F E The Pensions Regulator August 2012 You can reproduce the text in this publication as long as you quote The Pensions Regulator s name and title of the publication. Please contact us if you have any questions about this publication. We can produce it in Braille, in large print or on audio tape. We can also produce it in other languages.

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