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Non-advised investors take risks on drawdown

Cherry Reynard
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Cherry Reynard

Retirees are choosing not to buy an annuity, but have little experience in managing an investment portfolio and aren’t seeking advice, according to a survey.

The survey from insurance group Zurich shows that a third of people using drawdown (32%) to fund their retirement have no investment experience and two in five (41%) of these have not received either financial advice or guidance. This means the portfolio may not be suitably invested for their long-term financial needs.

Currently, 430,000 people are using the new ‘pension freedoms’ – keeping their pension pot invested rather than buying an annuity (‘drawdown’). Yet many remain inexperienced in dealing with their drawdown pot, which stands at an average £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. Retirees may take too much risk, or not enough – either 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% vs 29%).

As to why people haven’t sought advice, many thought drawdown would be simple (47%). A third (29%) claimed they were confident in their investment decisions.

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.”

One in ten (10%) UK adults who do not get advice rely on search engines to help them navigate the complexities of drawdown, while one in five (20%) look at newspapers and magazines. Pension firms were the leading source of guidance for a third (35%) of consumers, though 44% of all those in drawdown confessed there is nothing that would prompt them to get advice or guidance.