Delaying a saving decision, the nation’s biggest pension regret


‘Never put off tomorrow what you can do today’ is widely regarded as good advice, but new research* among both the working and retired population has found that we are a nation of pension procrastinators. When asked what their biggest saving regrets was, 51% of working people cited not starting early enough or taking a break from saving.

Similarly, the second biggest regret (14% of people) was not making a financial plan while 12% wished they had been more engaged and either joined their workplace pension scheme, or moved out of their default pension fund.

Women (17%) were more likely to regret not being engaged with joining a scheme or moving out of the default fund while men were more than twice as likely as women to regret not paying attention to costs/fees/charges (11%).

Similarly, the biggest pension regret among people who had already retired was also putting off a saving decision (38%), followed by poor planning (18%). However, the third biggest pension regret among retired respondents was how they used their pension pot (14%). This included taking tax-free cash when they didn’t need it, taking too much income too soon from their drawdown policy, buying an annuity and failing to buy an inflation linked annuity.

Pensions – regrets and best decisions

Top three mistakesPension regrets (working)Pension regrets (retired)Best decisions (working and retired)
1 Delaying a saving decision Delaying a saving decision Joining my workplace pension / Saving into a personal pension (if self-employed)
2 Poor planning Poor planning Saving for retirement from an early age
3 Lack of engagement How I used my pension pot Paying extra into my workplace pension

On a more positive note the survey also asked people about their best pension decisions to date.

The best pension decision among those still working was joining their workplace pension or saving into a personal pension (42%). This was followed by saving for retirement from an early age (19%) and then paying extra into a workplace pension (18%).

Men were more likely than women to say paying extra into their workplace pension was their best decision. While women were more likely than men to say saving for retirement from an early age was their best decision.

Steven Cameron, Pensions Director at Aegon said:

“With the State Pension unlikely to provide an adequate income for most, saving into your workplace or personal pension is not something you can afford to delay. For many of us, it’s the most important saving pot we’ll ever have, so you want to give yourself the best chance of building it up over as a long a period as possible.

“By starting to save for retirement as early as possible, with time on your side, you have a better chance to avoid future regrets.

“It’s all too easy to put things off till tomorrow, and for those many years away from retirement, delaying paying into a pension, or putting off plans ‘till next year’ may look tempting. But our research shows that many people live to regret procrastinating.” 

Steven Cameron concludes: “There’s a saying – smart people learn from their mistakes, wise people learn from the mistakes of others. When it comes to saving for retirement, it’s easy to fall into bad habits or make decisions you’ll later regret. But taking personal responsibility and making better financial decisions now will make all the difference to your future.”

Follow these steps to keep your retirement plans on track:

  • Start saving for retirement early and make it a habit
  • Make a financial plan for retirement and review it regularly
  • Join your workplace pension or save into a personal pension if self-employed
  • Make sure you are paying enough into your pension
  • Review your pension investment funds – you might want to move out of the default fund
  • Pay extra into your workplace pension when you can
  • Don’t access your pension pot before you need to – consider all your options
  • For important decisions, get financial advice

Further information

*Research was conducted by Aegon with the Aegon UK consumer and customer panel. Total sample size was 824 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken in February 2018.


Stephanie Melrose

PR Manager

Aegon UK

Tel: 0131 549 6743

Mob: 07740 897 621


Notes to Editors

  • In the UK, Aegon offers retirement, workplace savings and protection solutions to around two million customers and employs approximately 3,450 staff. More information:  
  • As an international life insurance, pensions and asset management company based in The Hague, Aegon has businesses in over twenty five markets in the Americas, Europe and Asia. Aegon companies employ over 28,000 people and have millions of customers across the globe. Further information:  
  • The value of an investment can fall as well as rise and is not guaranteed. You may get back less than the amount originally invested.

Aegon is a brand name of Scottish Equitable plc. Scottish Equitable plc, registered office: Edinburgh Park, Edinburgh EH12 9SE. Registered in Scotland (No. 144517). Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Financial Services Register number 165548. An Aegon company.

© 2018 Aegon UK plc.