In the mid-eighteenth century, two Church of Scotland ministers devised the world’s first pension plan, a scheme designed to benefit widows of their fellow clergy.

Using data produced by Sir Edmund Halley, Alexander Webster and Robert Wallace calculated that if a minister contributed the equivalent of £2.61 a year to their newly-created pension fund, his widow would, upon her husband’s death, receive an annual pension of £10 – more than enough to keep her and her children free from the clutches of the poorhouse.

The Scottish duo enjoyed another spell in the spotlight when 'What They Do With Your Money', written by Stephen Davis, David Pitt-Wilson and Jon Lukomnik, was published in May 2016. The book suggests that this inaugural pension fund was enormously popular because its approach to managing members’ contributions was “both technically and morally trustworthy”.

Perhaps all funds should be administered by men and women of the cloth, but until they are, this book once again alerted investors to the cost of having their savings managed.

An annual fee of 1.5% doesn’t actually sound much. After all, the people managing your investments have to be paid. Yet for someone aged 25 who conscientiously hands money over to a fund manager for four decades until they retire, the cumulative impact of that innocuous-looking 1.5% annual fee is colossal. By the time they 65, almost 38% of their pension saving will have been handed over to fund managers and advisers.

“The finance industry is not designed efficiently to create wealth for others,” the book says. "It has become positively awesome at creating wealth for itself."

If keeping costs to an absolute minimum is a prerequisite for squeezing every last drop out of your pension fund, avoiding onerous conditions is another.

The series of revolutionary pension reforms announced by then Chancellor George Osborne almost a decade ago continue to make waves. A key point of Mr Osborne’s pension freedom proposals ensured that savers were no longer compelled to buy an annuity, presenting those saving for retirement with the freedom to invest as efficiently as possible.

In the wake of Mr Osborne’s pronouncements, Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) have become enormously popular with savers who appreciate their investment freedoms and efficient tax structure.

Financial advisers are often fervent advocates of SIPPs and support the arguments made in 'What They Do With Your Money'. There are several different forms of SIPP, though the primary aim of each is to help build members’ pension pots without incurring a raft of charges.

The best financial advisors are up-front with charges, so clients know they’ll have no unpleasant surprises when they receive their quarterly investment statement. There’s no point in trying to disguise a fee or management charge and lumping it onto the client.

It goes without saying that a good financial adviser will ensure that their SIPP-related costs remain at affordable levels by keeping matters as simple as they were almost three centuries ago.

When Webster and Wallace created the world’s first pension plan, such was the degree of its transparency and simplicity that the pair calculated that within 20 years the fund would be worth £58,348. They were wrong – but only just. It was £58,347, an acceptable rounding error of 5p a year.

The pair were remarkably accurate because, amongst other factors, they knew how much their fund would cost to administer. Reliable, trustworthy advisers operate in similar tradition, keeping costs low to ensure that the value of clients’ pension pots are not undermined by the regular application of often questionable fees and charges.

"Technically and morally trustworthy" would be a good way to describe such an approach.

For more financial advice, check out Peter Sharkey’s regular blog, The Week In Numbers.

This column is for general information only and cannot be relied on as financial advice for individuals. Consult your professional adviser.