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Naming and shaming the worst pension funds

With the world of pensions shrouded in mystery and wrapped up in overcomplicated technical jargon, many of us end up paying little attention to our pensions.

Published on 21 Oct 20133 minute read

Written by Jason Hollands

In the past, this didn’t really matter because people were paid a proportion of their final salary on retirement so, unless their employer went bust, they knew how much they had to live on in retirement. But times have changed and only the lucky few are still in line to receive a gold-plated final salary pension. Instead, responsibility for income in later life now rests firmly on our shoulders.

These days, the money you’ll have in retirement is down to the amount you’ve paid into your pensions, the impact of inflation and interest rates and the performance of your pension investments.

Do you know how well your pensions are performing?

If you don’t, you’re not alone. There are vast numbers of people in the UK who, for many reasons, don’t take an active interest in their pensions and, unbeknown to them, are unnecessarily suffering from the triple tyranny of opaque charging structures, mediocre to downright abysmal investment performance and lack of control over their pension plans.

Naming and shaming the worst pension funds

At Bestinvest we have long sought to shine a light on the problem of investment funds that consistently perform poorly. We have done this for almost two decades through our landmark Spot the Dog guide, which names and shames the worst funds. Unsurprisingly, it doesn’t win any popularity awards with the financial services industry.

Now we have decided to turn our attention on the pensions industry with the creation of our pension edition of Spot the Dog, which exposes poorly performing pension funds. The results of our research may shock you.

Some £31 billion of people’s retirement money is sitting in the worst-performing pension funds

Spot the Dog Pension Edition has identified 113 pension funds, with combined assets totalling approximately £31 billion, that have consistently underperformed. To earn a place in the guide funds must have failed to beat their benchmark over three consecutive 12-month periods and also by more than 10% over three years.

The guide also names a set of 40 funds in four major Association of British Insurers pension fund sectors that we have dubbed the ‘Long-Term Laggards. These have undershot the average fund in each sector by more than 20% or more over the last decade.

Download the guide to find out more.

The funds in our guide only represent the worst of the worst, so don’t assume that if your funds aren’t featured they are fine. There are many more pedestrian pension funds that it might be worth considering switching elsewhere.

Don’t stand for poor performance

If your pensions are not delivering or you are unsure, do not despair. There may be time for you to remedy the situation and get back on track. We make no apologies if the guide spurs you into action – your pensions are important, they will affect how you live your life in retirement.

We can help

Why not spend five minutes on the phone with one of our friendly pension experts? We have years of experience helping clients make the most of their pensions and can talk to you about the benefits of combining your pensions into one and explain how we can help you. Call us on 020 7189 2400 or email

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