You can bank on your pension, but your pension isn’t ‘in the bank!’

Published  12 September 2023
   3 min read
  • A quarter of 18–24-year-olds wrongly think that their pension savings are held in a bank rather than invested
  • Almost a third (30%) of women don’t know what happens to their pension contributions, compared with 15% of men
  • More than a fifth of people (22%) don’t know if they’re saving enough money in their pension for their retirement

New research from Royal London, the UK’s largest life, pensions and investment mutual, shows that one in four 18–24-year-olds with a workplace pension think that their pension contributions end up in a bank account, with less than a third (28%) of young adults knowing that pension contributions are invested by their pension provider.

Royal London surveyed 6,000 UK adults, 4,500 of whom had one or more workplace pensions, and discovered that, across all age groups, almost one in ten (8%) think their pension money goes straight into a bank account. More than a fifth (22%) of people didn’t know what happened to their pension contributions once they were made. However, there was a significant gender divide, with 15% of men but almost a third of women (30%) giving this answer.

While two fifths (40%) of people thought that pension contributions were invested in funds chosen by their pension provider, 15% said it is invested in funds either they have actively chosen or that are selected by their financial adviser.

The research also showed that over half of respondents with a workplace pension were unsure whether they were saving enough to have the means to live comfortably in their retirement, with 37% saying they felt they should be saving more, and 22% admitting they don’t know if they’re saving enough. Men are more likely to say they’re saving enough for their retirement than women with almost half of men (47%) saying this compared to around a third of women (34%).

While some people were very engaged with their pension, with almost one in four (24%) saying they checked theirs at least once a month, however, one in five (21%) said they never checked their pension.

Sarah Pennells, consumer finance specialist at Royal London said:

"Our research shows that there is a real divide in attitude to pensions between those who are interested in their pensions and those who either don’t have a pension at all or have a pension that they’re not actively monitoring.

"It’s heartening to see the majority of people know that their pension funds are invested but it was a surprise to see that a quarter of young adults thought that the money that left their pay packets every month ended up in a bank account until they needed it. There is definitely more to do to get people actively engaged with their pensions and taking an interest in where that is being invested.

"Retirement can seem like a long way away, until suddenly it’s around the corner. There are lots of demands on people’s time and money, but if you ignore your pension and don’t think about what you’d need for a good standard of living when you stop work, your retirement may look very different to the lifestyle you’d like."

Clare Moffat, pensions expert at Royal London said:

"Auto enrolment has been a great success in getting more and more people saving for retirement but, for most, the amount being saved won’t give them the retirement they want. The earlier that someone starts saving into a pension the better and that’s largely due to employer pension contributions, the government top up in the form of tax relief and then the benefits of compound interest. But it is difficult for people to see the benefits of pensions if they don’t understand them. 

"This is especially important at key points in people’s lives like entering the workforce or changing jobs. However, having a child and stopping or working part-time due to caring responsibilities or health issues are also key points. These are more likely to affect women and this is one of the reasons that two thirds of women feel like they aren’t financially prepared for retirement compared to just over a half of men."

Notes to editor

Royal London commissioned a survey by Opinium between 1st and 8th August 2023, with a sample of 6003 UK Nat rep consumers.

For useful information from Royal London visit: Where does my pension go? - Royal London

For further information please contact:

Nicki Parry, PR Manager

About Royal London

Royal London is the largest mutual life, pensions and investment company in the UK, and in the top 25 mutuals globally, with assets under management of £162 billion, 8.6 million policies in force and over 4,200 employees. Figures quoted are as at 31 December 2023. Learn more at