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pensions are actually invested in equities

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I’ve just been reading a Wealth Check in the Independent. Its one of those things where they take someone’s current financial position and three or four experts offer their advice.

I’m so annoyed at the final piece of advice that they’ve given the woman, on her retirement and pensions. All the experts quite rightly say that this 23 year old should start saving for her retirement immediately. They correctly say that she should see if her employer offers a scheme and if not, to consider a stakeholder scheme. All well and good. However the final piece of advice given by Danny Cox of Hargreaves Landsdown is:

To boost her retirement fund and increase her chances of earning more money than expected, she should consider investing in equity-based funds. Although there is risk entailed, Cox advises that Katherine will benefit in the long run if there is a downturn in the market, if she has her money in equity rather than stakeholder savings.

This is a completely misleading statement.

It implies that in general payments into a stakeholder will be into a sort of savings account. This is pretty much never the case. The value of a stakeholder pension may go down as well as up, but over the 40 years this woman has, it is pretty sure to be up. Basically, the money in a stakeholder pension is normally held in equities (at least in part) and in particular, it often held in an equity-based fund.

I think what the expert was actually trying to suggest was that she hold some of her money in actively managed equity funds that hedge against a stockmarket fall. I have issues with whether or not that is good advice, but in this article, that isn’t what is stated anyway.

The reader is left with the impression that money in a stakeholder pension is not in equities and that it is in “savings” (with the guarantee that implies). This is so not true of stakeholder pensions in general, its ridiculous and the suggestion that there is a reasonable likelihood that over the next 40 years the stockmarket will be lower than it is now is not even being given the short shrift it deserves :(

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