Brits have “ostrich mentality” regarding retirement savings

Nearly half (48%) of UK consumers have an “ostrich mentality” when it comes to retirement planning, according to new data from Skipton Building Society.

The new Skipton Building Society Retirement Tracker grouped consumers into five distinct ‘saving’ categories according to household income, how much they are using to fund their retirement and retirement preparedness. They were categorised as Wise Owls, Squirrel Savers, Money Moles, Savings Snails or the Ostrich mentality.

A worrying 48% fall into the ‘Ostrich mentality’ category when it comes to saving for retirement. This group is either not saving for retirement or their savings are falling short.

Around 66% of the Ostrich category admitted they could not afford to save, of those with savings that are currently falling short, 38% believe they will be nowhere near their savings target by the time they retire.

More than half of non-retirees (51%) have not saved anything to fund their retirement and 49% have no idea how much they will need. When it comes to saving, 38% of people surveyed said they can’t afford to save and 13% admit they choose not to.

Just 6% of Brits are wise owls with an investment portfolio

Just 6% of those surveyed were categorised as ‘Wise Owls’. This group tends to have a more sophisticated portfolio with a broad range of investments and savings. Nearly half (47%) of the group is saving to fund their retirement through a Cash ISA, 37% through a personal pension and 32% through stocks and shares investments. This group is the most likely to use cash savings to fund their retirement (55% compared with 41% of Squirrel Savers and 27% of Savings Snails).

Just 6% were classed as Squirrel Savers, meaning they are on track to meet or exceed their savings but have a less sophisticated portfolio than the Wise Owls. The majority (72%) of this group is relying more on a company pension to fund their retirement than other investment and savings options.


Around 21% of non-retired people are classified as Money Moles, which shows they are saving without a set target but have at least one of the following to support them: a company pension, Cash ISA or overpaying on their mortgage.

Just one in five (18%) can be categorised as Savings Snails. This group is the most likely to talk to friends and family members for advice (18% compared with 7% of Ostriches). They tend to save more than Ostriches, but 35% think they’ll be quite far off their target savings total. In reality, 20% of this group are not saving any part of their annual household income to fund their retirement.

Jacqui Bateson, senior propositions manager at Skipton Building Society, said: “When it comes to personal finances, it’s easy to focus on the here and now, not the future.

“However, when it comes to planning for retirement you cannot bury your head in the sand and avoid the fact that you will need to save something on top of the state pension.

“Our new Retirement Tracker reveals that the UK is very much a nation of ‘ostriches’, shying away from the reality of saving for their retirement.”