Why pay for advice? Take the poll!

[polldaddy poll=5703072]

This is a question that troubles me – not surprising as I’m a pensions adviser who reckons his job is to get people to the point when they can manage their pension affairs by themselves. If advisory self sufficiency is the goal, shouldn’t I be out of a job by now?

It’s no use me complaining about how the Government keep making things complicated. The Government will say they have to because people like me keep finding pension loopholes which need complicated regulations to plug.

Besides, if it hadn’t been for all this complication, I’d be out of a job in weeks. My company employs an army of technicians to keep me up to speed on all the issues that my clients need to know about.

My clients of course are companies and their pension trustees who have run pensions since time immemorial and they are now – as Macbeth put it

“in blood

 Stepped in so far, that should they wade no more, 

 Returning were as tedious as go o’er”

With no disrespect to these fine clients, they would not, were they setting out head for where they are today.

Indeed , I very much suspect as soon as ever they can, they are going to draw a line under the DB fiasco and start again on a basis that does not involve them employing actuaries, investment consultants, auditors, benefit consultants, lawyers and actuaries. Indeed I’m pretty sure they’d prefer a pension strategy that avoided the lot of us!

Now Pension have come up with such a strategy and it’s a little ironic that we as a bunch of advisers like their strategy very much. They make life very simple for their clients by banishing investment choice, only providing one operational interface and stripping out all the flibbertigibbets of pension architecture from protected rights to equalized GMPs in favour of simplicity.

Simplicity is of course very difficult. Some of the finest things in the world are simple and simply beautiful. Beauty is difficult said WB Yeats to Audrey Beardsley. As I write I hum the opening lines of “Yeovil True” some of the finest lyrics written in the 1990s

I was born on a Yeovil Saturday

It was pissing down with rain

My Mum said

What a big head

I’m not doing that again.  (think Two Little Boys if you don’t know it)

See what I mean – the genius is in the simplicity. Which of course is what I’m talking about.

I’m thinking that what I’d want from a personal advisor or a corporate advisor is the simple solution to my problems that I was never allowed.  And if it’s difficult to get that simplicity, what’s to stop me going directly to NOW Pensions and getting myself a nice simple pension without an adviser in sight?

And I’d have to admit to myself  “NOTHING”. Sure, I’m not going to get off scot free, I’m still going to have set aside some time to learn the ropes but I’m not going to have to employ a pensions manager and a bunch of advisers to tell me how much I have to pay and when.

Truth is, if all I want to do is to comply with these damned auto-enrolment regulations, I shouldn’t look much further than NOW or NEST or one of the other jolly good new schemes which will be up and running in the next couple of months.

But here’s the thing. If I am employing someone, I want them to be happy at work, not leave and I want a way to make sure I get more of the same when I look to build my team. If my lads simply regard pension contributions as a nasty little tax and aren’t bothered about what’s happening to their money, fine – I’ll stick with setting up my pension with a nice simple provider and that’s that.

But if my lot decide that they are quite interested in the 8% of pay that’s being sent off to NEST or NOW Towers- then I’ve got a new set of problems. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing and a little pension is even more dangerous. In my experience, once people start building up pensions for themselves, they move from being insouciant because they’ve got nothing (state will provide) to being worried because they haven’t got enough.

People who get into the pension habit start worrying about choices, they want to know what they can do, and what they shouldn’t do and what happens with each choice and answering all those questions costs time and money.

Some people will want to know it all and take control of their pension planning. They need the kind of technical support I get and I’m more than happy to continue to service this kind of client as I do today. If you think you’re that kind of person, please vote for technical info in the poll at the top of the blog.

If you’re the type of person who reckons they want to know the fundamental choices then you’re also definitely good news for someone like me. Please vote for knowing your choices in the poll.

But you might be saying to yourself, don’t give me 70 shades of grey, tell me what I ought to do and then I’ll have just one choice – to do it or not to do it. If you’re that kind of person then you are also good news to me, provided that I can deliver you a definitive course of action and don’t have to spend too long about it. So if you want to be told to do, make that your choice in my poll.

Now I know these polls are open to sabotage and that I may not get a representative response (because a lot of people who read my blog are rather too interested in pensions) but I think this poll could become very useful to me in time.

Because I’m a caring and sharing kind of guy, I’m going to keep this simple poll’s results available to anyone who comes on this blog and hopefully, over time, it might become interesting to people who wouldn’t normally bother coming here. Which is also good news because I want people who come to my blog to be non-pension people who go away thinking that perhaps they might want to talk with me about pensions.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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6 Responses to Why pay for advice? Take the poll!

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