A new report has cautioned that a combination of starting to save for a pension too late and saving too little could leave many pensioners living out a "financially uncomfortable" retirement.

Pension provider Irish Life has published a detailed "Retirement Readiness" report which looks at potential outcomes for members of its defined contribution schemes.

The Irish Life research reveals that the average age of a worker starting a defined pension plan was 37 years and the average contribution was 10.3% of salary - this included employer and employee contributions.

But Irish Life said this level of contribution will result in an insufficient pension when the worker retires.

It would result in the average pension scheme member having a pension of just €7,900 a year -17% of their salary in retirement. 

While this amount would be topped up by the state pension, Irish Life said it would still represent a significant drop in come for most people.

The report also found differences between genders with the average DC fund accumulated to date at just over €53,000 for men and €34,000 for women.

"Our analysis also highlighted how important it is for people join pension schemes as early as possible. The current average joining age of 37 years does not give people the optimum amount of time to build their fund," commented David Harney, managing director of Irish Life Corporate Business.

"Starting early and giving contributions as much time as possible to accumulate and take advantage of investment gains is just as important a factor for favourable outcomes as contribution levels and investment choices," he added.

Almost 1,400 company schemes, covering 38,000 members, were analysed for the report.