The Pension Handbook

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Which? Books, May 1, 2006 - Pensions - 221 pages
1 Review
This guide to maximising your pension encourages a hands-on approach and takes a realistic look at how you can safeguard your financial future. Alternative methods of saving are examined, with returns, risks and tax implications clearly outlined. Lowe provides up-to-date advice on how to get the best pension possible.

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I wish I could recommend this book. It is neatly printed on quality paper. It also has colour-coded boxes, short sections and graphs which allegedly help the reader easily understand and visualise the main points made. But (and this is a big BUT) it has so many content shortfalls that it can be awarded at most one star out of five.
A few examples. Endless number of bullet-point lists gives the reader a false impression s/he has been provided only with the relevant information. Really, what too many bullet-point lists do is bore the reader away from reading it.
Second, I spotted hypocritical advice which significantly lowers the usefulness of this guide advertised as an unbiased source of information. For example in section Women and pensions, the author points out (and presents data, even though without any source) that women have smaller retirement pots due to their personal decisions of saving less and planning less compared to their male counterparts. Someone would expect the author to encourage women do the opposite: save more and plan better by choosing carefully suitable pension schemes. Instead, she advises females to ask their partners to solve the problem for them. This seems to me outdated and contra-productive.
Third, the jargon buster boxes are hardly useful. Instead of explaining complex concepts in plain English, they very often confuse the reader. For example, the definition of annuity on page 88 does make me think of bonds. So are annuities and bonds the same thing? This guide leaves me in the dark. On the other hand, some of these jargon busters are obviously nothing more than space fillers. How longevity could ever be jargon for readers educated enough to understand what a pension scheme is? Even worse, when did the word retirement become jargon?
I could go on with four, five, six... shortfalls of the guide. However, the bottom line is The Pension Handbook (Which? Essential Guides) by Jonquil Lowe is not worth your while; not even at half the price it is selling now. There are far better alternatives out there including free ones like specialised websites that are truly independent and reliable (I will not name any as this may amount to advertisement which, I think, is against Google Books policies).
 

About the author (2006)

About the authors

Jonquil Lowe is an economist who worked for several years in the City as an investment analyst, and is a former head of the Money Group at Which?. She now splits her time between working as a freelance financial researcher and journalist and as a Lecturer in Personal Finance with The Open University. Jonquil holds the Diploma in Financial Planning and researches and writes extensively on all areas of personal finance. She is the author of over 20 books, including" Giving and Inheriting, The Pension Handbook, Save "and" Invest" "and Finance Your Retirement", all published by Which? Books; the "Personal Finance Handbook" published by the Child Poverty Action Group, which is used as a set text for a number of personal finance courses; and, with Sara Williams, "The Financial Times Guide to Personal Tax.

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