As we approach the Eboracum Roman Festival in York, the PS Aspire York staff are grabbing their swords and sandals, and asking “what did the Romans do for us?”

Well, apart from sanitation, medicine, education, wine (a team favourite Roman gift to all of us), public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system and public health…they also had pensions! 

At the end of sixteen years’ service, a Praetorian Guard received 5,000 denarii.  A lowly Legionary would have to complete twenty years to receive 3,800 denarii (personal pensions vs final salary anybody?).  This would equate to about 16 years of service pay. 

…and if the Treasury couldn’t afford it, they simply extended the length of military service!

Now this wasn’t out of the goodness of Caesar Augustus’ heart; instead it was to keep his retired soldiers sweet so they didn’t rise up against him!

What's this got to do with pensions today?

Well, this sounds somewhat familiar as from November 2018 the State Pension Age (SPA) became a minimum of 65 and, because we are all living longer, the State can’t afford it; this means the SPA is increasing depending on when you were born, with all of those born after 1978 having a State Pension Age of 68. 

Granted, that’s not quite as bad as having to do longer military service, but still, it’s forcing people to work longer if they’ve not made sufficient private pension provision.

workplace-peopleMany employees still believe the State will look after them but have little idea how much the State Pension is or what that may actually buy them when they get to retirement.  From April this year, the full new State Pension is only £168.60 a week, roughly £8,700 a year.  The actual amount people get, however, will depend on their own National Insurance contribution history and a State Pension forecast is the best way to get a firmer idea.  You can check this here.

Realistically, the State Pension should be the last resort safety net, and possibly just like Caesar’s thoughts, as something to stop people rising up against the Government!

However, in all seriousness, this highlights the need for us all to try and start retirement planning as early as possible, and for employers to play a part in helping employees to do this.  We appreciate that many employers are contributing as much as they can afford on behalf of their employees, but a focussed communication plan can help employees understand their pension and how they can make a difference to it. 

workplace-wine-44We can expect to spend a good 20+ years in retirement these days and it should be a time when we are able to treat ourselves to a bottle of fine Italian Barolo rather than a bottle of Blue Nun…

Check out our blog for some great communication ideas you can try.

Talk to the York team for further details:

Telephone 01904 236400

 Source: The Roman Army: A Social and Institutional History, Pat Southern

Posted by Leon Farrar

Topics: Retirement, dc pension schemes, York

New call-to-action

Ask The Experts

Want to get in touch?
Just fill out the form below and we will be in touch shortly.


Next Generation Savings

Changing Workplace Savings Behaviour for the Better



We provide consultancy services to employers and trustees on contract-based and trust-based schemes, including master trusts. Our proposition encompasses governance, investment, administration and communications.



Establishing and governing the ideal workplace pensions and savings for your employees can be complex and time consuming. That’s where we come in.


Engagement & Education

We use innovative communication channels and modern technologies to help educate, engage and inspire employees across a range of financial topics.


Find out more


With greater choice and freedom in how and when individuals are able to access their pension fund, there is now an even greater need for early education and advanced planning. Find out how we help.



Our investment research division analyses and rates over 18,000 DC investment funds. The insight we have enables us to support your investment objectives, making sure they're on track to deliver.


Health & Risk

Our health & risk service provides tailored combinations of cover and cost to exactly match each employer's requirements, helping you get best value for your benefits spend.