Pension pain for Generation X is 'national scandal'

Pension pain for Generation X is 'national scandal'

Generation X - the so-called 'squeezed middle' - are facing a painful retirement without adequate pension provision, guaranteed inheritances or independent financial advice. 

A study among people aged 39 to 54, carried out on behalf of Dunstan Thomas among more than 2000 Britons, has shown Gen X faces a bleak future when it comes to retirement, with the loss of defined benefit schemes, a reduction in the number of advisers since the Retail Distribution Review, and financial pressures on all sides.

While the average pension savings of UK Gen X is £159,837, putting in just over £200 a month, this will not be enough to secure a comfortable retirement, based on current assumptions. 

Gen X are most likely to be in defined contribution schemes, bearing all the investment risk themselves during accumulation, and face the prospect of having to rely on whatever state pension benefit awaits them down the line.

Despite all of this, and in spite of the fact that 55 per cent admitted they were not saving enough to maintain their lifestyle in retirement, with 22 per cent claiming to have no pension whatsoever, a significant proportion had never heard of pension freedoms and had little idea what to do with their money in retirement.

Some 38 per cent said they did not want to think about retirement "because it worries me so much" and 42 per cent were hoping to receive an inheritance before they retire.

Pensions veteran Adrian Boulding, director of retirement strategy for Dunstan Thomas, said: "It’s worrying that 22 per cent of Gen Xers claim to have no pension whatsoever.

"Those that have pensions are saving about a quarter of what they need to be to fund even a moderate retirement lifestyle and only 5 per cent of this group look to be anywhere near on track.

"The only surprise then is that this is not already a national scandal as one in four Gen X look set to rely totally on the state pension for income in retirement and nearly two thirds resign themselves to working longer than planned or cutting their living costs substantially in retirement."

Yet even with these headwinds facing them, 84 per cent of respondents said they make key financial decisions alone or together with their partner.

Some 21 per cent do go online for supporting financial information from sites such as MoneySupermarket, but only 8 per cent consult a financial adviser.

When broken down by region, the percentage of those getting professional financial advice rises to 13 per cent for Gen Xers resident in London, but the figures by Dunstan Thomas paint a worrying picture for the 'squeezed middle', who not only tend to be supporting children through school but also, increasingly, are taking on some element of care (financial or otherwise) for their ageing parents.