DOD’s blog: The word that dare not speak its name

What is wrong with the P word?

I wasn’t too surprised to discover that the most read article on the Employee Benefits website this past week was ‘Top 10 pension jargon expressions to avoid’. The topic seems to have hit a cord, at least on Twitter (partly because of the great infographic).

The one jargon word we did not list in the article was the word ‘pension’ itself. We have already been criticised for that.

However, I wonder if this omission is valid.

After all, that is what it is and most people know, broadly, what a pension is. Even if they don’t know their state pension from their personal one and a final salary from a defined contribution.

For dictionary lovers, here is what Oxford Dictionaries says ‘pension’ means: late Middle English (in the sense ‘payment, tax, regular sum paid to retain allegiance’): from Old French, from Latin pensio(n-) ‘payment’, from pendere ‘to pay’. The current verb sense dates from the mid 19th century.

So I don’t see the word itself as jargon. It is the sentiment attached to it that is the stumbling block.

Pensions are difficult (to save for, understand how they work), boring (all that other jargon and complicated investment stuff), and not trusted (blame the industry and expectations that go beyond what people have saved for).

We can call pensions what we like, but unless we can make pensions seem like a good deal for everyone we will continue to hit a mental block.

Auto-enrolment has already started to change attitudes among some as they begin they feel they being proactive about saving.

So let’s hear it for pensions!

Debi O’Donovan


Employee Benefits 

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Twitter: @DebiODonovan