Power to you B.M. I had a personal pension scheme (portable) for 20 years, and after that time I was seeing only 1.5 to 2.0 % annual increment in the value. I immediately withdrew the funds (no small amount by then) and have seen 7 to 8 % annual increments since then. I am no NOT an Independent Financial Advisor, so will not tell you how I achieved that return, but it was legal and simple. At 7% annually, then every 10 years your fund doubles in size - this means a huge difference at maturity.
I dont take risks with my pension, but neither do I get suckered into the schemes offered by most Financial Institutions. i took an early withdrawal 2 years ago of 200,000 euros and have bought a property for my retirement already - it is currently let out through an agent, fully insured and bonded, and have 1000 euros net, a month going back into my funds.
From talking to my USA Friends this is not so different to what they do - if they are self - employed. If you are employed by another company (rather than as a contractor) then they seem to get the worst additional Pension Rights - same as UK.