There's really no such thing as "Irish" pensions, we have a certain level of state pension, certain tax incentives for private pension provisions, a range of DC pension providers offering thousands of funds, a number of employer run DB pensions, regulations and legislation around what information and protections a policyholder is entitled to, etc.My take on Irish pensions are they are a system designed to take money off you, not give it back.
Because of there are multiple aspects (or strands, or pillars, or whatever you wish to label them) to how we save for retirement here in Ireland, I think it is important to set out clearly what particular aspect we believe to be sub standard by international standards, e.g.:
1) Is our state pension too generous or not generous enough?
2) Are tax incentives appropriate? (We have a very similar tax incentive framework to the UK in terms of private pension contributions)
3) Do Irish fund mangers systematically under perform their benchmarks? (remember as well though available funds include cash / low risk alternatives and international fund manger offerings on offer anywhere in the developed world)
4) Have Irish employers been particularly inept when it comes to managing DB pensions for employees? (Defined benefit employer pensions are a common feature in the UK and Ireland, both countries have suffered from the current low interest environment in terms of an underfunding crisis).
5) Are there issues with Irish pensions legislation e.g. lack of priority rights to members in service relative to retired members?
6) Is the solvency regime and regulatory oversight sufficient? (No private pensions providers have ever gone under in Ireland)
7) Do retirement savings providers here charge extortionate rates for their services relative to other countries?
8) Are we happy with the services provided by brokers?
In relation to point 7, after several years of bashing on these forums, I have yet to see anyone provide solid information that fees in Ireland are comparatively bad value. In fact, here is an extract from the recent report on pensions charges (http://www.welfare.ie/EN/Policy/PolicyPublications/Pensions/Documents/PensionChargesIreland2012.pdf):
The research provided a comparison of charges with other external benchmark pension types to show the relative competitiveness of pension charges in Ireland from a member or individual pension savers’ perspective. Findings suggest that occupational pension schemes compare favourably to these benchmarks. The average Irish occupational scheme reduction in yields (in relation to disclosed costs only) identified are 0.52% to 0.91% (Defined Contribution insured schemes of various sizes) and 0.30% ‐ 0.58% (Defined Contribution non‐insured schemes of various sizes) compare favourably to the equivalent reduction in yields calculated for UK Stakeholder pensions (1% and 1.63%) and the typical charging structure for standard PRSAs (1.27 to 1.57%).