The emerging ‘Consolidation Nation’

Eggs in a basket

Pensions

Alistair Hardie

18th August 2014 at 10:56am

It would appear we are now increasingly becoming a ‘consolidation nation’, with many people combining their different contracts and services to make them easier to manage. It’s a growing trend and new innovations are coming into the market all the time to tempt consumers. The recent launch of ‘quad-play packages’, which now combines mobile, home phone, broadband and TV, are a good example.

A life made simple

Research from YouGov *1 has found that over half of us are now doing this, with reasons ranging from making it easier to keep track of costs, to keeping on top of admin. Easily the most popular thing to combine was energy with a third of us choosing to combine gas and electricity, followed by home and contents insurance. Just behind that comes TV, phone and broadband. But the consolidation trend hasn’t taken off in all areas. The research showed just 9% have combined their car insurances and only 3% have combined their mobile contracts to make use of mobile phone family tariffs.

Tidying up your finances

Interestingly, just 3% of those surveyed have consolidated their pension. However, this trend might change because of the reforms in the Budget announced earlier this year, giving people even more reason to consider tidying up their pension arrangements. research showed just 9% have combined their car insurances and only 3% have combined their mobile contractsMany of us have more than one pension and almost two thirds of us with pensions don’t know their total value. Some pension de-cluttering could also make our finances simpler to manage and provide a clearer view too.

If you’re thinking about a spot of pension de-cluttering, it’s always good to have a plan in place first.

Here’s 5 tips that could help with your pension planning:

  1. Create a list of all your pension plans and check you receive an annual pension statement – billions of pounds worth of pension funds is going untraced as a result of people losing contact with their pension. The Government provides a free pension tracing service here which allows you to find lost pensions using your national insurance number.
  2. Make contact with each provider to check the value of your pension and find out what it is likely to provide at retirement – this will help you assess whether your plans are on track.
  3. Understand your benefits – if you’re considering consolidating your pensions check you’re not giving up valuable benefits such as guarantees or enhanced tax-free cash. It’s important to speak to an expert to get information on your own situation, as you may want to keep these.
  4. Check how your money is invested – make sure your money is invested in funds that reflect your attitude to risk. Keep this under review particularly as you get closer to the time you plan to retire.
  5. Get online – see if you can view your pension savings online – that way you can keep track and see how your pension is doing more easily, so you feel more in control.

If you’re considering bringing together your pensions, this blog from the Money Advice Service also has some valuable information for you.

Pack up your troubles

We all want an easier life, one not cluttered with paper work and crowded with concerns about our money. So, as we as a nation get used to combining our utility bills and insurances, maybe it’s time to take the same approach with our savings.

This blog and any responses are not financial advice. A pension is an investment. Its value can go up and down and it may be worth less than you paid in.

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*1 All figures unless otherwise stated were from research for Standard Life conducted by YouGov Pc among 2,059 GB adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 17th – 19th December 2013. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).