Private Investor: It's best to keep pension eggs in many baskets

Not all of us plan on getting divorced, or even married, but most of us assume that we'll make it to retirement. Reflecting on the two personal finance issues of last week - the House of lords ruling on divorce settlement and the White Paper on pensions - I'm personally more interested in the latter than the former. "What does it mean for me?" I'm sure you've been asking as well.

The truth is that it doesn't mean that much to me. It's now 30 years since we managed to achieve a cross-party consensus on pensions. The two politicians concerned were Norman Fowler and Barbara Castle, figures from, respectively, yesterday and the day before yesterday. In case you've never heard of them, Mrs Castle was a famous Labour politician and Secretary of State for Social Services (combining health and social security) and Mr Fowler was her Conservative shadow; and he went on to have responsibility for pensions in Mrs Thatcher's government.

Anyway, these two got together in the mid-1970s and agreed a scheme called the State Earnings Related Pensions Scheme, or Serps. Company pension schemes were in pretty good nick in those days, so whatever went on there was pretty uncontroversial. The new scheme was launched, and some 10 years later that very same Mr Fowler, with the Chancellor Nigel Lawson, began the long process of running down the Serps scheme and the cross-party consensus broke down, never to be re-formed.

The reason I'm exploring these pleasant historical byways is that they illustrate an important point, especially to those of us who entered the workplace just when Serps was beginning to wither, the earnings link for state pension was being abolished, and the newfangled "portable" or "private" pension schemes took off.

We all know what happened next. Deregulation, mis-selling scandals, mismanagement, mis-regulation and the complete humiliation of the British financial services industry, symbolised by the practical collapse of Equitable Life. With so much political capital to be made out of everything from the Maxwell/Mirror pensions theft to pensioner poverty, no wonder there's no political consensus.

Can you see what I'm driving at? There's still no political consensus and people are still no less wary than they ever were of the pensions providers. There's nothing to stop a new Tory government, say, starting all over again. I'll certainly be interested in paying into the new national Pension Savings Scheme, because I'm always interested in paying into different pension schemes. As the Equitable demonstrated graphically, it's best not to keep all your eggs in one basket, so the more diverse your pensions arrangements the better.

Mine consist of some old "frozen" occupational pension from past employers, various old personal pension schemes, whatever is going on with Serps, and my current money purchase scheme. None of which do I expect much return from. Despite all the tax breaks and undoubted advantages of going through 'the professionals", I still prefer to look after the bulk of my investments myself.

So, for example, when the markets tanked last week , I didn't sell my shares. If the markets tank further, then I will have no one to blame about not selling up beforehand. Likewise, I can congratulate myself for my stead nerve and patience in buying more equities now should they recover. I will not need to go on protest marches about malfeasance and incompetence because those, if they transpire, will be my own fault. I won't be asking anyone for compensation, either.

I haven't yet taken the opportunity to buy more equities, but I shall, because I still think that by the time I retire, shares will have gone up more than other assets. What I need to do is spot the bargains bobbing about. By the time I'm 68, maybe even Kazakhmys might be up on its recent highs.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Suggested Topics
Lucerne’s Hotel Château Gütsch, one of the lots in our Homeless Veterans appeal charity auction
charity appeal
Life and Style
A woman walks by a pandal art installation entitled 'Mars Mission' with the figure of an astronaut during the Durga Puja festival in Calcutta, India
techHow we’ll investigate the existence of, and maybe move in with, our alien neighbours
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hughes (James Nesbitt) after his son Olly disappeared on a family holiday in France

Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt

Nabil Bentaleb (centre) celebrates putting Tottenham ahead
footballTottenham 4 Newcastle 0: Spurs fans dreaming of Wembley final after dominant win
Arts and Entertainment
The Apprentice candidates Roisin Hogan, Solomon Akhtar, Mark Wright, Bianca Miller, Daniel Lassman
tvReview: But which contestants got the boot?
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels ride again in Dumb and Dumber To
filmReview: Dumb And Dumber To was a really stupid idea
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Ian McKellen tempts the Cookie Monster
tvSir Ian McKellen joins the Cookie Monster for a lesson on temptation
Tourists bask in the sun beneath the skyscrapers of Dubai
travelBritish embassy uses social media campaign to issue travel advice for festive holiday-makers in UAE
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Java Developer - Hertfordshire - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

    £40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

    Ashdown Group: Direct Marketing Manager - B2C, Financial Services - Slough

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity h...

    Ashdown Group: Java Developer - North West London - £47,000 + bonus + benefits

    £40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...

    Selby Jennings: Corporate Communications & Marketing Specialist – Geneva

    120,000 - 150,000 chf + bonus: Selby Jennings: A leading Swiss Private Banking...

    Day In a Page

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum
    France's Front National and the fear of a ‘gay lobby’ around Marine Le Pen

    Front National fear of ‘gay lobby’

    Marine Le Pen appoints Sébastien Chenu as cultural adviser
    'Enhanced interrogation techniques?' When language is distorted to hide state crimes

    Robert Fisk on the CIA 'torture report'

    Once again language is distorted in order to hide US state wrongdoing
    Radio 1’s new chart host must placate the Swifties and Azaleans

    Radio 1 to mediate between the Swifties and Azaleans

    New chart host Clara Amfo must placate pop's fan armies
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'It's life, and not the Forces, that gets you'

    The head of Veterans Aid on how his charity is changing perceptions of ex-servicemen and women in need