Spending assets in retirement / AEGON


How do people manage their finances for retirement? And what would help people plan more effectively?


AEGON is one of the world’s largest providers of life insurance, pensions and long-term savings and investment products. As such, they wanted to understand consumer attitudes towards ‘decumulation’: how people manage their pension savings in retirement, and what affects their behaviours. The purpose was to enable policy makers and financial service companies to better encourage, equip and enable people to plan for their retirement. The ethnographic case studies we produced fed into a written report published by the Office for Public Management.

Some insights

The following insights were accompanied by actionable strategy recommendations:

– We found that the financial choices people make are often determined by their earlier personal life experiences.

– As social contracts continue to evolve, the level of responsibility people feel towards each other also affects their financial choices.

– It can be difficult to balance the need to plan for the future, with the desire to live in the moment; as such, people react in different ways, and employ different strategies, to cope with this tension.

– Receiving help to make the most of income and assets in retirement can be welcome, but people may lack confidence in, or be overwhelmed by the advice on offer.

– As attitudes to decumulation are inevitably linked to preceding experiences and expectations, in order to help people effectively manage their future, it’s important to engage with their present needs.


“Because you work so intimately with consumers, you really grounded the work from the consumer perspective – both at the design and the analysis stage. The case studies were a valuable component of our research, providing a context and immediacy that brought deeper understandings to life. It got people thinking more widely about choices at retirement than just the mechanics of annuities and pricing. I’d happily recommend Close-Up Research!”

Consultant, AEGON pension & life insurance