Thursday 2 August 2012

Alongside auto-enrolment, workers need help with financial planning. Dr Ros Altmann, Director-General of Saga comments on today’s CIPD report which shows that the majority of workers are offered no support or advice to help people understand financial issues:



“Financial planning in the workplace can be hugely beneficial to help employees manage their money.  Many people have no idea about financial planning and investment - it is not taught in schools or universities and there is often confusing jargon that puts people off engaging with the issue.


“Older workers, in the years leading up to retirement, need help to plan their future finances carefully and are often too frightened to engage properly with pensions and savings because it can be confusing or they fear they have not saved enough and prefer not to think about it.  Younger people with large debts also need help in managing their money.  The best place to deliver financial planning courses is likely to be at work, with groups of people together who can discuss issues with each other in a non-threatening environment and then perhaps have some one-to-one time with an adviser once they understand some of the basics.


“This approach to improving financial literacy in the UK could reap big benefits for workers and help people understand the reality of financial planning.  People need to be equipped with the information and skills to make informed decisions for themselves, rather than having to rely on generic advice they often fail to understand.”


Employers should be incentivised to offer advice

“Employers should not be expected to educate their workforce on these issues, but those who are willing to offer financial planning courses as an employee benefit could perhaps be incentivised to do so. At the moment, there is very little tax relief given for employers to offer financial advice to their employees.  I think the Government should increase the limit on the amount of advice per person that can be given. At the moment, the maximum that can be claimed is £150 per person per year which would buy just a few minutes of an advisers' time.”


Crucial to offer people more retirement planning advice ahead of auto-enrolment

“As we are just about to automatically enrol millions of workers into company pension schemes for the first time, they need help to understand what is best for themselves.  This should be a crucial part of the policy of auto-enrolment and increasing the tax relief limit on workplace financial advice could help kick-start the process.  £150 a year is nowhere near enough to deliver the needed level of help.”



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