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I only had myself to blame for being 30 feet above a sawdust floor balancing precariously on a metal wire only an inch thick.
Twenty minutes after I was introduced to Chico, my high wire act trainer for the day, I was on my own, trying to walk on a tightrope suspended high above the floor.
Peering downwards, the only thing I could see were the anxious faces of the Circus hands looking up at me from far below.
It was an odd turn of events for someone trying to talk about the financial collapse of the savings industry and even odder because the story began a few months earlier with a phone call from Panorama.
The programme had asked me to investigate the problems that people were facing with their money. Billions of pounds are being spent bailing out banks and trying to persuade them to lend more to businesses.
Whilst the headlight of attention has been focussed on those who borrow money, the millions of ordinary people who have saved money, have been largely forgotten. With banks paying hardly any interest, the real value of people’s nest egg is dwindling and the money they invested in their pensions, is being attacked by collapsing share values.
As part of our investigation I’ve spoken to lots of savers who say they feel betrayed and let down by an industry and a government which, they say, asked them to do all the right things but ignored them when the markets took a tumble. They feel that through no fault of their own, they are being left to a retirement of hardship and uncertainty.
As a result, many people feel they are being forced to take-on more financial risk than they are happy with. So the programme thought it would be a wonderful idea to let me feel what it was like to be forced to take some risks of my own.
I was taking safety precautions when learning to perform my hire wire act. Unfortunately savers and investors are being asked to walk a financial high wire without any safety net at all.
Savers who we have interviewed have said there pensions are not paying them anything like the amount they expected. As a result they are worried about the future, don’t know what to do and are angry and confused about how they have been landed in this mess.
Some of the solutions have been relatively easy. A surprising number of people can double the amount of interest they earn by just not leaving their savings with the bank they have had for years. Shopping around for the best rate of interest for your savings can do wonders for your wealth.
No one was going to become rich investing in National Savings, but their Index Linked bonds guaranteed savers money would be worth more in real terms in the future than it is now.
A common mistake is for people to automatically buy their annuity from the same company which provided them with their pension plan. You can often get a much better deal by getting quotes from competing companies. Since you have saved for decades to provide a pension it’s very important to choose wisely when you get to actually retire.
But not every problem has been that easy to solve and we have been looking at the huge task ahead for savers and the pensions industry.