I wasn’t planning on having a rant like this so early in the year, but then I saw the following ‘in the wild’ and felt the need to vent.
Every year I get an annual statement from a pension I paid into over ten years ago when I worked for a UK retailer. I usually ignore these as, to be honest I don’t always understand the figures completely and I wasn’t really in the job for long enough that the return will affect me greatly when I retire.
Just yesterday I received my annual funding statement for 2011 and, on opening it, found this table directly comparing the funding level from 2010 with that of 2007:-
Not only was there a shortfall in the overall funding total for 2010, but they felt it would be prudent to display the headline percentages again as this:
I mean, why? This tells me nothing more (less, in fact) than the table shown above. I already understand the figures well enough without a truly awful speedometer graphic to make things ‘clearer’ or ‘more interesting/fun’ for me…the key point is that, at this moment in time there would be insufficient funds to pay out to everybody in the scheme, compared to the surplus in 2007. If I had a large amount of money stored in this pension fund I wouldn’t be welcoming something ‘fun’ to look at.
With only two data points to display there’s actually really no need for any graphics. The table (at least to me) is understandable enough without taking up unnecessary extra space in the report to ‘clarify’ the key data it contains. In fact, the speedometer takes up more space on the report than the table does, and this to only highlight the two percentages – a completely pointless waste of otherwise useful space, I think.
If there were more data points covering more years then a simple line chart like the one below would be much more useful (if a little boring), and would give a better overall picture of what has gone amiss and when – what do you think?
This makes it much easier to see how the fund has changed over time. In fact, with this in mind I’m interested as to why the report didn’t contain more years’ data…
Anyway, that’s one rant over. The following page of the report then details where the money has been invested.
I don’t need to make any comments on this image as you probably already know my thoughts. At least it totals 100%.
As usual, comments are welcome.