A third of people using drawdown (32 per cent) to fund their retirement have no investment experience, yet two in five (41 per cent) of these have not received either financial advice or guidance, according to new research from Zurich UK.
Almost half a million (430,000) people are taking advantage of new pension freedoms to draw down their retirement savings, yet the highest proportion have never actively invested in the stock market. Despite being first-time investors, tens of thousands have not sought regulated financial advice or guidance, even though they have an average drawdown pot of £153,000.
The study – the largest of its kind into consumer behaviour in drawdown – warns that a lack of advice and guidance could leave retirees at risk of running out of money in retirement. Poor decisions in drawdown can lead to consumers taking on too much risk, missing investment growth or making unsustainably high withdrawals. Women in particular were more likely to be first-time investors, potentially putting them at greater financial risk (41 per cent vs 29 per cent).
According to Zurich, the ‘first-time investor gap’ is being driven by a lack of consumer understanding of drawdown, with almost half of novice investors who had not received advice saying they thought drawdown would be simple (47 per cent). A further third (29 per cent) claimed they were confident in their investment decisions, despite having no previous experience of actively investing.
Alistair Wilson, a pensions expert at Zurich, said: “As double the number of people choose drawdown over annuities, Britons clearly favour the freedom and flexibility, but the issue is that many appear to be underestimating its complexity. In the build-up to retirement, many savers rely on pension firms to make investment decisions on their behalf, meaning many have no hands-on investment experience when they take control of their pot. For retirees not getting advice or guidance, there is a danger they could end up picking the wrong investments or taking money out of their pot too quickly. This is putting a worrying number of people at risk of running out of money in retirement.”
“Understanding what can be done to encourage consumers to seek financial advice or guidance is crucial to helping retirees secure a decent, lifelong income. The Government should reconsider the case for introducing mandatory guidance for drawdown, requiring people not getting regulated financial advice to opt either in or out of receiving guidance before accessing their pension. We would also like to see the new Single Financial Guidance Body offer free drawdown MOTs to help consumers not getting advice check they are on track in drawdown. ”