Both asset managers and pension schemes are failing to give investors enough information on the fees they pay, according to Professional Pensions research.
Nine out of ten of the 126 respondents to this week's Pensions Buzz said asset managers had to do more to communicate fees, while eight out of ten said schemes should tell members more.
Contributors called for the introduction of a simple and standardised way of reporting costs.
Elsewhere in this week's research respondents said simple heuristics were more useful for communicating with members than modelling, and were divided over how much people should save for retirement.
To read the results in full click here.
The vast majority of the industry believes asset managers should report costs to schemes more clearly. Nine out of ten respondents to this week's Pensions Buzz said charges were not communicated clearly enough.
While many argued the need to increase transparency was indisputable, some were sceptical asset managers would be comfortable with being more open about costs.
One commentator asked: "Is anyone seriously suggesting that asset managers do not realise that investors are unclear about costs, or that it is all genuinely accidental? Only detailed legislation and the accompanying threat of fines will achieve such clarity."
Another respondent said: "Fully reporting of all costs, above and beyond the annual management charge, would make the industry more transparent about the actual costs of investment."
Just one in 20 contributors said managers did not need to be more open. The problem was not lack of information but poor interpretation according to one critic.
More than eight out of ten contributors said schemes should report costs more clearly to their members. Respondents said giving members more information would help them make better decisions.
"We can always do better - certainly unmasking fund costs and management costs allows the trustees to better inform members - for our part we have to been drilling down into the costs and better explaining these to the membership," said a pundit.
One commentator asked why schemes should hide things and another said there needed to be a "standard way of reporting those costs and they are transparent; otherwise it will be a waste of time".
Only 11% were against increased openness about costs for members. One commentator said : "With a nation never wanting to pay for anything this could just drive down savings levels. This should not be pensions only - what about the costs of other savings including those which look 'free' such as bank / building society savings accounts?"
There was a spread of opinions on how much average earners should save for retirement but eight out of ten respondents said it should be at least 9% a year.
"Employee should contribute 5% of all regular earnings from £1," said one commentator. "Employer contribution should be on top of this and be in the range of 7% to 10% of all regular earnings from £1."
One respondent added: "The contribution rate required for 50-70% replacement depends upon the investment returns. At 5% a contribution of 15% will deliver something around these levels - but beware costs, fees and volatile investment strategies."
But one commentator said: "The problem is that future needs are unknown, and future society unknowable. Best to put a decent slice away for whatever the future throws up, but don't do it at the expense of enjoying yourself today."
Opinions were even more split over how much workers on low incomes should save, but almost half of respondents said it should be between 5% and 12%.
Many suggested those on lower incomes would have to save a higher proportion of their income to get a decent standard of living in old age but would be unable to do so.
"To secure a decent retirement income, low earners ideally would contribute over 15% of their salaries - but realistically they can't," said one contributor. "Below 8% (including employer contributions) is too low to have any tangible benefit and may only succeed in replacing whatever state benefits that person might be entitled to."
Another respondent said: "This group are unlikely to afford significant savings. In reality, a decent standard of living in old age seems increasingly fanciful for this group. This group should aim for a trivial commutation lump sum plus a full state pension."
Most respondents said simple rules of thumb were more a more effective way of communicating with members than modellers and guidance.
A commentator said: "Heuristics will beat models and guidance twaddle in almost all circumstances - models and guidance are secondary to the base case and can supplement those."
"If people have some basic principles to cling to, it's a start," added a contributor. "We know that they might only be a partial truth, but something is better than nothing."
However another pundit said people should not get carried away with rules of thumb. "Most members are looking for one liners so rules of thumb are the best way forward," said one commentator. "I use them, and they work by and large - but a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing so this needs plenty of health warnings! And seek professional advice if you can afford it."
A fifth said rules of thumb were not better than guidance or modellers. "They're complimentary not a replacement," said a pundit.
To read the results in full click here.
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