Cheltenham 2012 – Hope For The Future

I’ve spent the past week in the company of 250,000 people whose idea of an investment decision was whether to bet each way or on the nose.

The Pension Play Pen assiduously avoided the hospitality pavilions that stretched down the winning straight. We hung out with our fellow unwashed in the Guinness Village, hung round the parade ring and crammed onto the rails.

Cheltenham 2012 may have been far removed from my normal day to day activities but it offered some insights into the behaviour of the millions of people in Britain (and Ireland) who we’re  supposed to be working for.

Insight one

People will take substantial investment risk where there is a clearly defined reward. They will not whinge they have lost their money so long as the rules of the race are properly followed.

Insight two

There is no greater dealing mechanism than a bookie‘s pitch and no greater transparency than a betting slip. SMPI statements should aspire to the slip’s simplicity.

Insight three

People will seek out best value using new technology. The use of price comparison sites and tele and internet betting was evident everywhere you looked.

However, when it came to striking a deal- the vast majority of financial transactions were face to face through the Tote booths and the bookie’s stands.

While retail activity remains a person to person thing, institutional investment on the racecourse has brought a new transparency to betting market and substantially reduced the spreads punters pay (without apparently damaging booky’s margins).

Insight four

The level of sophistication of the average punter suggests that if those who manage pension plans could harness just some of the financial engagement to the business of retirement planning, many of our issues would dissipate.

It is hard to think of a more enlivening experience than the four days we sent singing, dancing ,punting ,cheering , winning and losing. The racing was as ever magnificent and the event so well run that I find it really hard to criticise anything within Prestbury Park.

Roll on 2013 and let’s hope that in the remaining 363 days till we start again, we can get to grips with pensions with the energy and enthusiasm of the quarter of a million beloved souls who, along with 750 horses , showed me some hope for the future.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen, Director of First Actuarial, partner of Stella, father of Olly and the Pension Plowman
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