Pensions: get the facts

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The Independent Online
AT THE time it was hailed as a revolution in the way we are treated by financial institutions. The provision to prospective clients of, say, a personal pension policy's total charges was meant to redefine the relationship between clients and the companies they deal with.

The new disclosure regime introduced in 1994, which included details of the effects of charges on the final payouts of our pensions and other policies, would arm us with all the information needed to choose between good and bad products. Four years on, according to the Consumers' Association (CA), the whole disclosure edifice is in danger of collapse. A CA survey, published last week, found that the way this information was presented was seen by many as far too confusing.

Sadly, reforms are years away. Until then, a new generation of telephone pension providers now sell cheap pensions that are simple to understand and easy to buy.

q The 'Independent on Sunday' has produced a Guide to Direct Pensions, written by Nic Cicutti, personal finance editor of 'The Independent'. The 26-page guide, sponsored by Eagle Star, a provider of cheap pensions by phone, covers a wide range of topics linked to retirement planning. It is available by calling 0800 776666. Or check the coupon on page 16.