So it’s Pension Awareness Week, and on Wednesday 15th September, it’s Pension Awareness Day – how exciting! We really do have an awareness day/week/month/hour/second for just about everything these days. I am supposed to be writing a blog to help raise awareness about the importance of having a pension. I’ll be honest; I haven’t found it easy. Putting it bluntly, pensions themselves aren’t exactly the most exciting topic of discussion. I’m pretty sure no one reading this has sat around a table with friends having a few drinks and asked, “well, go on tell us, how’s the old pension looking these days?”


A few years ago, if I were writing this, I would probably have talked about how tax-efficient pensions are, or the amazing 8th wonder of the world, “compound growth”, or the pitfalls you need to look out for when setting up a pension. In fact, I have done all of these things before, and you can read them and others here.


Truth be told, there is very little I can say to you about pensions that you won’t find out reading the standard Sunday business paper section or by simply googling them yourself. Many advisors like to make out that pensions are terribly complex and act as gatekeepers to knowledge for their clients. I’ve no interest in doing that. I want the families I advise to understand pensions or anything else we advise on in the simplest terms possible. So let’s give it a go. Wait for it. A pension is… a tax-efficient vehicle for long term saving. There you go. That’s it. Nothing else to see here. That’s what a pension is.


As I’ve gotten older, I have found that ‘What’, ‘Who’ and ‘Where’ questions just aren’t that interesting anymore. I’m far more excited about ‘Why’ questions.


“What’s a pension?” – Not very interesting.


“Why do I need a pension?” – Well, that question has pretty much endless possibilities. Now I’m listening.


Look, you do need a pension. You do need to manage costs, manage your tax bill, and pick a sound investment strategy. However, unless you stop and take time to answer the ‘Why?’ you won’t get the most you can get out of a pension. I’m interested in the ‘Why’. The most important question I can ask a family is, ‘What is the money for?’


Here are some possible ‘Whys’ for your pension:


  • I want to be able to retire someday (that’s an obvious one)
  • I want my kids to be looked after when I’m old and grey
  • We want to help the kids get on the property ladder
  • I just want to spend more time with my family and the people who matter most to me
  • We wish to have a second home by the sea in Kerry/Clare/Portugal
  • We want to retire at 60, buy a camper van, and drive throughout Europe for the next two years
  • I want to go to space (one client genuinely did tell us this, and we are going to do everything in our power to make it happen)


    Oh, the places you’ll go!


    A pension is a means to an end, a vehicle that can transport you to where you need to get to in a tax-efficient manner. Having a fancy car is great and all, but it’s the places it can take you that makes a car really exciting. That’s what your pension is for.


    This Pension Awareness Day, try to find someone – an advisor, a CFP, a financial planner, even a friend – who wants to ask you about your ‘Why’. Start talking to your better half about it. Find the ‘Why’ first, and pensions will seem significantly more exciting and easier to understand. Then you can focus on the ‘How’ and the ‘What’ questions. If you’re struggling with your ‘Why’, watch this video – it never fails to get my creative mental juices flowing.


    Cian Callaghan
    Head of Financial Planning



    Metis Ireland Financial Planning Ltd t/a Metis Ireland is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland.

    All content provided in these blog posts is intended for information purposes only and should not be interpreted as financial advice. You should always engage the services of a fully qualified financial adviser before entering any financial contract. Metis Ireland Financial Planning Ltd t/a Metis Ireland will not be held responsible for any actions taken as a result of reading these blog posts.