Pension queries dominate Money Matters roadshow

Money Matters sign
Image caption The longest queues at the roadshow were for pensions advice

Bobbing on the water among the scores of sailing boats in the harbour at Plymouth is a small vessel called 'Happy Days'.

But among the 250,000 residents of the waterfront city, many days are filled with concern that finances are being hit by the state of the economy.

It is a picture being mirrored across the country.

So here, at the BBC Money Matters Roadshow, the concerns of the locals give an impression of how people are trying to manage their personal finances.

Pensions and savings are the key subjects that are worrying people, judging by the queues forming at the roadshow in the Drake Circus shopping centre.


This is the third in the recent series of Money Matters Roadshows, following events in Manchester and Glasgow during 2009.

A host of experts have been lined up to give independent advice on every aspect of personal and small business finance.

Mortgages, student finances, tax and benefits are all covered - with experts explaining how some of the announcements made in Chancellor George Osborne's Budget will affect people.

But the queues are longest for advice on pensions.

Many waiting to see the experts have already reached pension age, or are approaching their retirement years.

They include one woman, aged 57, who has been concentrating on paying off her mortgage and debts instead of saving for a pension.

She asks Malcolm Mclean, of Barnett Waddingham, what she can do to save now for her retirement years.

"It might have been better to start earlier. It will be difficult to catch up, but not impossible," he says.

Mr Mclean tells her, and other visitors, about a rule of thumb for people to save the proportion of income that equates to half of their age.

For this particular woman, that means saving 28% of her income.

But for Gareth Curl the amount he needs to set aside for a pension is much smaller.

Image caption Gareth Curl is looking to start saving for a pension

The 29-year-old came to the Money Matters Roadshow for help on how to save for a pension for the very first time.

"The economy has been topsy-turvy and pensions have been disappearing," he says.

However, he is currently looking for work and so will not benefit for the auto-enrolment into a workplace pension scheme that will be introduced in the UK from next year.

Mr Mclean advises him to shop around among insurance companies for a personal pension scheme.

"The question is whether you can afford the contributions, but it is never to early to start saving for a pension," he says.


The other popular topics at the roadshow are savings and investments.

At times of low interest rates, many people are trying to find a home for their funds - often after they receive a lump sum from inheritance or other savings schemes maturing.

The advice is generally to shop around for the best deal, not just for savings products but also for other aspects of personal finance, such as insurance deals.

That task has been made more difficult for Sheila Dicks, because she does not have a computer.

She asks David Braithwaite, of Citrus Financial, how she can find the best deals for her household insurance without access to the internet.

He tells her that she need not go online, but can go to a broker. Using her current deal as a benchmark, she can possibly find a cheaper deal, but retain the cover that she gets already.

The roadshow continues until 5pm. Although not everyone will go home happier with the state of their finances, most will leave better informed.

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