Are you a snowflake?
IT'S the latest buzzword for describing people currently in their 20s and early 30s, and falls somewhat short of being a compliment. “Generation Snowflake” is a group of people who, like snowflakes, are delicate and oversensitive, and a slight increase in temperature could see them melt, especially in response to words or actions they see as ‘not politically correct'.
Snowflakes also feel a sense of entitlement – or to use a familiar phrase, they “feel the world owes them a living”.
I am sure the term is unjust, especially when applied to twentysomethings in Northern Ireland, although you should bear in mind that I'd have to say that, wouldn't I?
But thankfully I am not on my own. This is confirmed by some new research this month by the good ol' “man from the Pru” – Prudential.
Far from expecting the state to look after them, Prudential's survey of 1,178 adults found that nearly seven out of ten (69 per cent) aged under 35 are taking control of their own future, by saving into pensions, either through work or personal schemes.
Auto-enrolment into workplace pensions continues to do the job it's supposed to do, with two thirds (66 per cent) now signed up to a pension in the workplace.
However, there are still 24 per cent who have no pension, and there are over a quarter (27 per cent) who feel that, at their young age, pensions are not relevant and do not motivate them.
One thread did emerge, running through each of the groups mentioned above. They all concede they are struggling for information, with over half of them wishing their employer would explain their pensions and benefits more clearly, and a quarter (24 per cent) saying they find pension rules ‘very confusing'.
Perhaps this is why a third say they couldn't save any more, and nearly a quarter (23 per cent) feel that their current workplace or personal pension contributions are not high enough. One in six see themselves working till they drop – they don't believe they'll ever be able to afford to retire.
Fair play to Prudential, they point out that there may be good reasons why some snowflakes have not joined a pension scheme yet. “They are often under a lot of pressure to get on the housing ladder and pay off their student loans, at the same time as trying to prioritise pension savings,” says Pru's pensions expert Vince Smith-Hughes.
But the Pru believes it's good honest lack of information that is the root of the problem. Snowflakes simply do not know enough about pension rules and the options they have available. Why should they? Their mammy is still dressing the half of them.
Over a quarter of snowflakes say they are not confident with money and financial matters and many (23 per cent) are ‘saving into the dark', with no idea if their current savings levels have them on track for a comfortable retirement. The answer to that crucial question is just the kind of golden knowledge that half an hour with a financial adviser could provide!
Some of the ‘snowflake accused' are realising this, getting up off their bums, and helping themselves. In fact, over a quarter have taken steps to find out more about their options and current saving levels, and are seeking financial advice.
Are you a young pension saver? Make the call now, and find out if you are on track - before we have another sunny day, and your snowflake melts!
:: Michael Kennedy is an independent financial adviser and pensions specialist, and can be contacted on 028 71886005 . Further information is on the Facebook page 'Kennedy Independent Financial Advice Ltd' or the website www.mkennedyfinancial.com