no, the taxes are not just deferred.

the money you put in isn’t counted towards your income – so if you make enough you won’t be paying the top rate on it. when it comes time to get the money back, it will be assessed at your income levels at that point in time – your tax-free allowance and up through the bands.

depending on the pension scheme you buy into, you can have a great deal of control over the funds you pay into. no, you can’t select individual stocks, but you will have a selection of funds to pick from.

the earlier you start a pension, the more money you’ll have and the less money you’ll need to save. annoyingly i waited until i was 30 so i put as much into my pension as i do my mortgage.

and over the years i’ve talked to a lot of financial planners and the general theme is that you should split you money into several areas – property, stocks, bonds, etc. don’t just count on any of them. several of them advised my mom and she’s now retired and living quite well off so i’m inclined to pay attention. get a pension asap. look into your own private investments (i’m looking at, and remember that your house is an investment too.