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Savers pumping extra money into pension plans as pandemic creates €21bn surplus

The pandemic is leading to bumper pension pots. This is because large numbers of people who have built up pandemic savings are pumping some of the extra money into their pensions.

Pension advisers say that more than four in 10 people have increased their pension contributions during the pandemic.

Pension trustees Independent Trustee Company (ITC), which conducted the research, said the pandemic made people more aware of how vulnerable they were in terms of health, wellbeing, and financial security.

Those lucky enough to be able to work from home have saved on childcare costs, commuting, and have not been spending on meals out, holidays or weekends away.

This has seen household savings surge by €21bn over the past 18 months. Some of that is now being spent on pensions.

In a survey of 100 pensions advisers, half of them reported an increase in demand for retirement planning services during the pandemic.

More than four in 10 people have also upped their pension contributions, according to the survey undertaken by ITC. It found that during the pandemic, only 10pc of advisers saw a reduction in demand for retirement planning services.

Just two in every 10 pension savers reduced their contributions during the pandemic.

Head of business development and marketing at ITC Glenn Gaughran said the pandemic had made people far more aware of their health, wellbeing, and financial security.

He said that since the onset of the pandemic, most pension advisers had seen interest in retirement planning either continue as normal, or grow.

He added: “In many ways, we are seeing the uncertainty and sweeping changes we have experienced over the last year or so unfold in terms of their impact on how we plan for our financial future, and how we perceive pensions and retirement in our list of priorities.”

He said the increases may reflect a greater importance placed on retirement, or a redirection of people’s additional disposable income.

“It’s interesting to note that while 37pc have increased their contributions a little, just 5pc have increased them a lot.”

Mr Gaughran said this was likely to reflect the apprehension people had which had prompted them to save extra for the future, but not so much that they suffered unduly now.

He said investment market returns had been strong even during the worst of the crisis, and those returns might be enticing people to contribute more.

The assets of Irish pension funds have been growing since the start of last year, according to the Central Bank.

By the end of March this year, pension fund assets were up to €127.5bn.

Pension fund assets are the equities, properties, bonds and cash bought with the contributions to a pension plan to finance retirement income.

The rise in pension fund contributions is despite some employers halting pension savings for workers.

Others have seen contributions to their retirement plan being reduced by their employer, a survey shows.

Overall, one in four pension savers in this country has seen their pension contributions stopped by their employer or reduced, particularly younger workers, since the Covid-19 outbreak.

By Charlie Weston
05/07/2021 02.30am
www.independent.ie