Nest Insight research reveals the real impact of phasing on savers’ behaviours and attitudes

Nest Insight’s latest research, The auto enrolment experience over time: Understanding the real impact of contribution increases on behaviours and attitudes (PDF), looks beyond the headline opt-out and cessation figures to explore more deeply how the April 2018 rise in minimum auto enrolment contributions impacted savers.

By surveying Nest members before and after the rise, these valuable findings provide insight into how peoples’ financial circumstances are developing over time. With the next contribution rise on the horizon, the research sheds light on how savers may respond to the increase.

Key research findings:

  • Very few members (1 in 20) think too much of their income goes into their pension.
  • After the increase, over a quarter of members (28 per cent) thought about increasing their contributions further.
  • Around half of Nest members (51 per cent) didn’t notice an increase in their pension contributions.
  • After the rise, there was a slight overall increase in confidence in being able to provide for retirement, and members aged over 60 became more likely to consider their pension as their main source of income in retirement.
  • There was no evidence to suggest that there had been a negative impact on levels of overall debt or non-pension saving behaviours.

Will Sandbrook, Executive Director of Nest Insight, commented:

“There are extremely positive signs emerging from this research, and indeed there are many reasons to believe the next rise in April 2019 will result in a similarly low impact on cessations and opt-outs. Few members think that they’re contributing too much of their income into their pension and indeed over a quarter told us that after the initial increase they thought about increasing contributions further.

“Whilst inertia has clearly been harnessed as a powerful force of good, we do need to be mindful of the flipsides. In our surveys, most members told us that they check their payslips, but about half didn’t notice a change in their contribution amount. This low level of awareness suggests it’s unlikely that people are questioning whether they’re contributing enough. For those on lower and moderate incomes, who might otherwise expect to rely solely on the State Pension, auto enrolment is likely to provide a very meaningful uplift in their retirement income and quality of life in retirement. However, some people may need to take further action to achieve the retirement outcome they’re hoping for. Getting people to engage with retirement outcomes rather than inputs is an important first step.

“We also need to remain aware of the broader financial context in which people save for retirement. Whilst there’s little, if any, evidence to suggest that savers are funding increased pension contributions through debt, our work does highlight three groups to monitor as we move forwards. These include people who are more likely to be over-indebted or struggling to save outside of their pension. As our sidecar research highlights, helping individuals get the right balance of short and long-term savings is integral to improving overall financial wellbeing.”

Emma Douglas, Head of DC at Legal & General Investment Management, commented:

“This new research from Nest Insight helps to validate our assumption that the rise in contribution rates in April 2019 should have a minimal impact on opt-out rates. This is in line with our experience of the April 2018 increase where opt-out rates did not rise as a result.

“The survey also shows that people are still not engaged enough in saving for their retirement and whilst auto enrolment is a step in the right direction it will not be enough for the majority of us to secure a comfortable retirement. As an industry we need to do more to give pension savers the support they need to achieve the retirement that they want as well as tools to help them work through day-to-day financial pressures, as short-term money worries loom much larger than long-term savings. This is why LGIM has recently launched its new financial wellbeing hub which offers members helpful information about budgeting, debt management, mortgages and other financial information to help them make good financial decisions and plan for the future.”


Notes to editors

About the research

This project was made possible through the generous support of Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM). The research was conducted by Nest Insight and Harris Interactive.

View the full report here: The auto enrolment experience over time: Understanding the real impact of contribution increases on behaviours and attitudes (PDF)

Additional research from Vanguard and Nest Insight

Vanguard and Nest Insight have also today (Friday 1 March 2019) published a supplement to How the UK Saves 2018: Member experience from the National Employment Savings Trust (Nest) which analyses Nest’s membership data from the period January 2017 to August 2018. This detailed analysis supports the findings of The auto enrolment experience over time: Understanding the real impact of contribution increases on behaviours and attitudes, highlighting the low impact on opt-out and cessation rates following the April 2018 rise in minimum auto enrolment contributions.

View the full report here: How the UK Saves: The effects of phasing (PDF).

For further information about this supplement, or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Caroline Hancock, Head of PR Vanguard, Europe – Tel: 0203 753 6980 or

Jonathan Goodstone, PR Associate, Europe – Tel: 0203 753 05158 or

About Nest Insight

Nest Insight is a collaborative research unit set up by Nest Corporation to help understand and address the challenges facing Nest members and the new generation of defined contribution (DC) savers. For more information, visit or email

About Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM)

LGIM is the investment arm of Legal & General Group, a FTSE 100 company. They’re one of Europe’s largest asset managers and a major global investor, with assets under management of £984.8 billion (as at 30 June 2018). LGIM’s success has been built by focusing on clients and providing them with services and solutions that meet their needs. LGIM offers strategies across the full spectrum of asset classes, including equities, bonds, property, alternatives and cash, as well as multi-asset strategies tailored to the needs of institutional and retail investors. Visit for more information.

About Nest Insight’s strategic partner, Vanguard

Since establish the first indexed mutual fund in 1976, Vanguard has grown into one the world’s largest and most respected investment management companies. Vanguard manages £3.74 trillion on behalf of investors worldwide (source: Vanguard as at 31 December 2017). For more information, please visit: