Pension awareness day
You probably didn't notice but during this week we had 'Pension Awareness Day'. It was a day aimed at raising awareness of the need to save for your retirement.
As far as I could tell the only people talking about it were those who would benefit from selling pensions, namely pension providers and financial advisers.
Yet to my mind it is a great example of how the world of finance misses the point. Encouraging people to save for their retirement is important. But if you want to really make a difference you need a bit of joined up thinking. In the golden age of pensions when companies offered generous final salary schemes employees joined in their droves. In fact more people were members of their employer pension scheme in 1967 than they are today.
In the post-war era of frugality people saved for a rainy day. Credit was not available as it is now. Where it was available its use was more frowned upon. Saving for retirement when life would hopefully be easier was incentive in itself.
Fast forward to today and we have credit available on tap. Why would an 18 year old want to save for a rainy day when in 'cloud credit land' it never rains? The ability to gorge ourselves on credit means that there is less incentive to live within our means. There is almost no incentive to save for anything let alone retirement. If you want something you can buy it on credit today. There is no waiting.
Simply telling people why they should be saving money using days such as 'Pension Awareness Day' won't work. We need to change society's attitudes towards money and that begins with learning to value money again by getting control of the credit bubble out there. Reduce the availability of credit and in time people will be forced to start planning for tomorrow.