Welcome to my (Facebook) world

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I’ve been writing submissions on behalf of First Actuarial this week – all about getting better DC outcomes (better pensions).

Before you send off your opinions to the great and the good, you have to check you are speaking on behalf of your colleagues this is known as peer review.  This process forces you to justify your assertions, articulate your thinking. Sometimes we don’t think “we just know”- we use intuition rather than rational thought processes. Turning an opinion that’s intuitive to you into something that’s generally accepted intellectually is really challenging but very rewarding.

For ages, I’ve been banging on about how we need to get  messages about pensions to people in new ways. I’ve talked bout getting these messages to people’s Facebook pages and onto their twitter feeds. What I hadn’t done is convince my colleagues of why.

To do so I had to think about why social media sites are important to people. I spoke to a couple fo friends and one gave me an insight that I had felt but not  thought. She used the phrase “my Facebook”, I asked her what she meant by this.

She explained that while there was a lot of stuff going on in her life about which she had no control, what happened on her Facebook page was hers. She seemed to be talking about Facebook creating a new identity which was under her control.

I thought of some lines of poetry by Andrew Marvell

“The mind, that ocean where each kind

 Does straight its own resemblance find;

Yet it creates, transcending these, 

 Far other worlds, and other seas,

 Annihilating all that’s made

 To a green thought in a green shade.”

In my conversations with my  colleagues , I argued that they could no longer afford to ignore Facebook and other personal social media websites.

If we do, then we are making two statements.

  1. We feel your social media activities are  unworthy of our attention
  2. If you want to know about pensions, you need to engage with us on our terms.

Which is why pensions are seen as baffling and remote by a very large proportion of the population.

Many of us wonder how it is that people who can take so much time and effort securing themselves good deals on energy tariffs, car insurance and the like, pay no attention whatsoever to their pensions.

The fact is that most people feel they are excluded from pensions by the complexities of pension processes, by its jargon and by the aloofness of pension people. 

Facebook is a two way street, not only does it allow you to promote your ideas to others but it allows them to give you feedback in a non-corporate environment. Organisations like Tesco now rely on Facebook and other social media sites to understand what their customers are really thinking.

So for those who say that pensions are as “too important” for Facebook, I’d say “Welcome to my Facebook world”.   Those who ignore these new Facebook worlds will find themselves excluded from the financial conversation. In the next 48 months almost everyone is going to be involved in pension decision making and it’s a worrying thought that currently “retirement planning” does not feature on the majority of our financial agendas.

Pensions people need to recognise that these financial agendas are not shaped by mailshots, videos or DVDs. They are not even shaped by corporate websites. They are shaped by what can be downloaded quickly and cheaply via a mobile phone.The reality is that you do not need to sit at your desk to go on the web, you can go on the web as you shop, or watch football or just sit at home watching the TV.

So far, in as much as pensions have embraced web-based communication, it has done so on a PC to PC basis. The time has come to reorganise the pensions message so it can fit on the screen of a mobile phone and is worthy of sitting in Facebook in boxes and on Facebook walls.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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