WE CAN ONLY SOLVE THE CHALLENGE OF PENSIONS TOGETHER

GROUP CHIEF EXECUTIVE, AVIVA

ONE of the great achievements of the post-war years has been the big rise in life expectancy. People are healthier and can enjoy longer lives, seeing their grandchildren and even great grandchildren growing up. This is to be celebrated. But this achievement also poses a big challenge: paying for the growing cost of retirement – care and pensions – with fewer people in the workforce paying taxes, and with more and more people living much longer.

Part of the appeal of Davos is the way in which government officials and business leaders are brought together. And that is how our pensions challenge is going to have to be met too. Neither side can fix this on its own. Governments are strapped for cash, and cannot make uncosted commitments. Business has a range of stakeholders to serve. As a major insurer, whose purpose is to provide prosperity and peace of mind for our 44m customers, we have a role to play in tackling the problem. But we cannot do this on our own either.

In the UK the retirement landscape has changed. The current framework dates back to when many people had final salary company pension schemes. This is no longer the case. More people have a number of smaller pension pots built up with different employers over the years. We have been arguing for some time that our pensions market needs to be made simpler and more transparent, encouraging savers to shop around for better deals, and allowing them to combine these pension pots efficiently. The market needs to evolve to meet the needs of people who can expect to live longer but who have not been able to save as much as they would like.

And that is going to be a hard trick to pull off today, when everyone’s finances have been affected by the economic downturn. Simply telling people to save more is not enough. We can do more to kick-start the savings habit in people from a young age, and get people to keep the habit over a lifetime. We’ve been calling for annual pension statements for all citizens in the EU – bringing together forecasted retirement income from state, occupational and private – to help people see what they stand to get in retirement and plan better for the future. But the key to making this a reality is partnership – we really are all in it together.