Platforum: Uncertainty in the face of retirement

Heather Hopkins Platforum

In our latest nationally representative survey of working adults and a survey of a sub-set of active private investors, we found that uncertainty around retirement is mounting, particularly among women.

  • More than one third of working age British adults don’t have a clear idea of when they will retire.
  • 30 per cent plan to work either full time or part time beyond their state retirement age.
  • Uncertainty over when working adults will retire is up year-on-year and more people plan to work into retirement.
  • Uncertainty is even higher among women. While 29 per cent of British men have no clear idea of when they will retire, that increases to 39 per cent among British women.

Workplace pensions have always been identified as the first place to engage people with investing. And most working adults tell us that the most important source of income in retirement will be from a workplace pension – ahead of the state pension.

With the ratcheting up of automatic enrolment contribution rates around the corner, we hope opt-out levels will remain low in workplace pension plans. People know they need a workplace pension to fund their retirement – this should encourage them to keep socking their money away.


Active private investors are far more certain about their retirement, with 40 per cent of investors telling us they have consolidated their pension pots – usually through a financial adviser or with a pension provider. We have seen flows on platforms steadily increasing to pension wrappers since the announcement of the pension freedoms. Pension consolidation presents a good opportunity for both advisers and providers and we expect the fight to capture these assets to continue to intensify.

Lisa and the pension

Some commentators believe the Lifetime Isa is a threat to pensions. We asked investors and the adult population generally if they would use Lisa and if so, to what end. Nearly a third of British adults plan to use Lisa and most plan to use it for retirement. A worrying 22 per cent plan to use Lisa in place of a pension.

Life and pension companies offering annuities were hard hit by the pension freedoms. Lisa is another potential threat but the research indicates it will not be a massively disruptive force. In fact, active investors are less likely to say they will use Lisa instead of a pension to save for retirement. There might be some opportunity to introduce Lisa into corporate plans in the form of a Corporate Isa (but perhaps with higher take-up).

We will be asking employers about their demand for a corporate Lisa in an upcoming survey for our workplace savings research.

Of course the worriers about Lisas will turn out to be right all along if it indeed turns out to be a stalking horse for flat-rate tax relief pensions.

Heather Hopkins is research director at Platforum