What makes a good pension?

Golden egg in hand This week the government-run pension scheme Nest, posed the question: what makes a good pension scheme?

I thought the answer to this would be simple, one that takes my measly savings and turns it into shed loads of cash. Who wouldn't want that?However, this involves taking risk. I'm comfortable with taking investment risk, the whole of my pension is invested in emerging markets! But there are many people for whom the risk part of pensions is the most frightening aspect – the fear of the unknown and losing the lot.

According the National Employment Savings Trust (Nest) most people would be happy if they received the equivalent of what they put in, essentially they want their savings to keep pace with inflation.

This fear of making the wrong decision when it comes to pensions hinders a lot of people's retirement savings, although I would argue that doing nothing is the only wrong decision you can make. I had underestimated this idea because I have more exposure to pensions that most people who don't spend their days talking to pensions experts (lucky them).

Fear and confusion are bred by lack of knowledge and this struck me hardest at an event I went to last week about how to get young people interested in pensions.

We all come out of school knowing about trigonometry and algebra – although I'm ashamed to say that I remember little more than Pythagoras' Therom – but nothing about what we need to do to avoid debt, how to budget, and importantly how to save.

With such lack of knowledge around financial issues it is unsurprising that people are confused and fearful about tackling their finances, and even more so when you tell them that they are making decisions that they cannot undo and that they can't have the money for 30 years.

Pensions is a daunting world and on reflection I feel that maybe the best type of pension isn't the one that shoots the lights out in terms of investment, but one that is transparent, steady, comparable with other products, and most importantly jargon-free.

The financial industry is awash with jargon and the insiders may understand it but the man on the street doesn't – and how do you expect someone to buy into something that they don't understand?

Nest has posed a tough questions, let's hope that the pensions industry can provide an answer.%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%
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