Up to three quarters of a company pension pot can be wiped out by fees, a documentary by George Lee for RTE has found. And all pensions, state and private, are in trouble.

Watch the documentary on the RTE Player here

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Up to three quarters of a company pension pot can be wiped out by fees, a documentary by George Lee for RTE has found. And all pensions, state and private, are in trouble.

The documentary, Future Shock, which went out on October 17, found that “all our pensions are in crisis”, whether they are defined benefit schemes or defined contribution schemes because of the financial meltody,

“All our pensions are in crisis, there is no other way of saying it, whether it’s the state old pension or the public sector pension for which the money has been swallowed up by bank losses because that’s where the money has gone” Lee told Sean O'Rourke on News at One.

Public sector pension funds are also in difficulty because of the banking crisis. However private pension funds have delivered worse value than public funds, it has emerged.

Lee found that 75% of company schemes “are in serious trouble” with fees eating up a huge portion of the pension.

One conservative estimate found that annual fees charged for a large company scheme of, 2.2% of the fund per year, up to one third of the pension pot disappears over the period of the pension fund.

In a small scheme where there are not many members, the fees removed from the customer's overall pot could be as much as 76%.

“The fees are enormous ... and there’s no link between the fees and the performance and the performance has been quite bad,” said Lee.

“Right across the board, we have major problems, “ he added.

The government has now promised to investigate fees amid fears that pension companies are ripping off Irish customers.

The Minister with responsibility for pensions Joan Burton said pension charges in Ireland were not predictable or transparent and there was every possibility of people being overcharged.

However the main message from the experts, says Lee, is that “people are going to temper their expectations” and understand that pension pots won’t grow so much in the future.

Like the rest of the western world the Irish population is aging and there is not enough money to pay for our retirement.

A million or more people rely on the state pension and inevitably they will see their income cut over the coming years. Those on occupational pensions are facing a more uncertain future, with many pension schemes in meltdown. The only place you might feel secure is on a public service pension - but the state can't afford them anymore either.

Lee travels across the country to meet beleaguered pensioners who have lost almost everything, an elderly couple who on advice sank all their savings into bank shares as their nest egg, young people who right now are in no position to think about a pension.

“People are trapped in terms of policy and what choices they make ... it isn’t that pensions aren’t going to be there, it’s if they want them to be there they are going to work hard at it,” said Lee.

“Defined benefit schemes that appear as if they are safe are no more safe than any other fund because the money has to be in that fund to deliver the promise," he added.