Over ten million pension pots go unchecked by savers as two in three over-45s admit to paying little or no attention

Article date: 29 July 2015

  • 63% pay little or no attention to their pension pots
  • 41% of over-45s never spend any time reviewing their pensions
  • 12% do not read their pension statements
  • 25% of those retiring in the next two years say they don’t review their pensions

Almost two thirds (63%) of over-45s who are not yet retired admit they pay little or no attention to their pensions, leading to more than ten million pots being left largely unmonitored*, new Aviva research shows.

Two fifths (41%) of over-45s never spend any time planning and reviewing their pensions, while almost a third (29%) spend just one day a year or less doing this.

Those who are further away from retirement are most likely to spend no time reviewing their pension, but a quarter (25%) of those retiring in two years or less still fail to dedicate any time towards doing this.

Among those with more than one pension, just 27% manage them all very closely while 34% ignore their secondary pots completely – including a worrying 24% who ignore their main pension pot too. Even among those who have just one pension pot, 33% do not pay any attention to it.

Pension pots are ‘lost’ as savers struggle to keep up-to-date with their savings

The majority (61%) of over-45s with a personal pension scheme have only joined one scheme, although more than a quarter (28%) have started two or more. A similar proportion (29%) of those with the most common type of company pension – defined contribution – have two or more.

However, many over-45s aren’t sure how many pension schemes they have started. Overall, 6% don’t know how many personal pension schemes they have, rising to 7% who are unclear on the number of defined contribution schemes and 9% that don’t know how many defined benefit schemes they have. This suggests that some savers are unclear about the types of pensions they have and/or are not closely involved in managing them.

Annual statements and information are overlooked by some

Half (49%) of over-45s do nothing about the routine information they receive about their pension, including one in ten (12%) who don’t even read it. Only a third (37%) use the information to check if their pension savings are on track and act upon it. An even smaller proportion (7%) discuss this with a financial adviser or other financial expert. 

One in ten (11%) over-45s ignore their annual statements because they say they don’t know how to manage their pensions, while the same proportion believe their pensions are so small they aren’t worth bothering with. 8% delay looking at them until they are ready to retire – when it could already be too late to make any improvements on their financial situation.

Table 1: Top three reasons that over-45s ignore their pension statement

     All  Retiring in 2 years or less    Retiring in 3-5 years    Retiring in 6-10 years      
I don’t know how to manage my pensions 11%          6% 11% 10%
My pensions are worth so little they’re not worth bothering with 11% 7% 9% 11%
I prefer to look at it when I’m ready to retire 8% 7% 10% 9%

However, people tend to make more effort to monitor their pensions the closer they are to retirement – for example, only 7% of those retiring in two years or less believe their small pension pots are not worth the effort, compared to 11% who are retiring in six to 10 years. 

One in five will not consolidate their pension pots, despite being easier to manage

Just 14% have consolidated their pension pots or intend to do so in the future. A fifth (17%) will keep their multiple pension schemes separate and 13% are waiting for their pension provider to contact them before deciding what to do with their pots. More than one in ten (14%) prefer to keep things simple by having just one pension pot, and don’t intend to change this in the future.

Of those who have consolidated their pots, 21% did so because they took the advice of their financial adviser – however, nearly the same proportion (19%) did so because they found it easier to manage.

Clive Bolton, Managing Director, Retirement Solutions, Aviva UK Life, said:

“An alarming proportion of the UK’s pensions pots are being left unmonitored, with many simply ignoring their pension statements and hoping for the best. At the heart of this is how involved people are with their pensions – and while they can seem complicated there is lots of online support to help people make sense of their retirement savings.

“At the very least people need to understand what their total savings are across all of their pension pots, so they can plan in an informed way for their retirement.

“Having multiple pension pots can make things more complicated, but it doesn’t necessarily have to if people keep careful track of their savings. However, our research has shown that many people find managing their pensions difficult, and consolidating could therefore make it easier for them.  If they do wish to consider consolidating, then it’s important they take financial advice if they have valuable guarantees attached to their existing pensions.”

– Ends  –

If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact:  Instinctif Partners: Andy Lane or Rachel Morrod: 0207 427 1400 / 07815 540 932 / 07815 541 791 or twc.aviva@instinctif.com or Aviva Press Office: Diane Mangan: 07800 691 714 or diane.mangan@aviva.co.uk

For more information on savings and retirement, visit: http://www.aviva.co.uk/savings-and-retirement/ 

The Real Retirement Report is designed and produced by Aviva in consultation with ICM Research. The above findings are based on an online survey carried out among more than 1,500 over-45s who have not yet retired.

*ONS Pension Trends Chapter 7 (October 2014) estimates there are 8.1 million active occupational pensions and 8.2 million active members of private pension schemes. 63% of 16.3 million = 10,269,000.

Notes to editors:

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* Before the deduction of overlapping customers.


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