Will things ever change?

Employer duties I’m asking a question here that troubles me every day.

We all know that public confidence in workplace pensions has plummeted in the past ten years.
We all know that retirement savings rates are insufficient to provide proper replacement ratios for the majority of those relying on DC plans for post-retirement income.
And we know that the current annuity conversion rates are stacked against those retiring today.

Despite this calamitous state of affairs, there has been little positive action either from above (Government) or below (the pensions industry) to change things.
The auto-enrolment revolution is on slow burn. Delivered late and in a phased way, it will make a difference – but not anytime soon

RDR and the subsequent banning of consultancy charging have meant that traditional pension advisers have withdrawn from providing workplace savings advice and are generally working in other areas of financial services. To date no obvious replacement system to the commission incentives has been proposed.
We are in what I have referred to as a phony war. The overwhelming numbers of employers staging in early 2014 have less and less resource at their disposal to select, onboard and manage the pension arrangements they will need to run auto-enrolment.

It is into this world of impending calamity, that we have launched http://www.pensionplaypen.com . It is unlikely that one website in isolation can make sufficient difference to change things. While everyone agrees that this site is doing what the industry needs, no-one but us seems to be taking much action to encourage genuine self-service,
The idea that an employer can go straight to NEST or NOW or People’s Pension or L&G and onboard a workplace pension for staff should not be radical. Those insurers who continue to want to underwrite each employer proposition may feel this is unachievable through a website but is it?
In our world, employers will be able to follow a process that takes them from a workforce assessment to structuring contributions through to delivering data to insurers with minimal fuss.
In our world, providers will be able to analyze data , price a proposition and deliver that price to a report that allows employers to understand the breadth and depth of the market from which they chose.
In our world, employers will be able to access ratings of the propositions on offer so choices can be made on the basis of value than purely on price.
And in our world, the decision that is taken by the employer will be recorded and form part of a series of documents that becomes the essential audit trail the employer needs to demonstrate fiduciary responsibility for thier staff.

Is it too ambitious to suppose that the million plus employers staging auto-enrolment between now and 2018 can make sensible decisions based on such a process?
In order for innovation to happen, we need to welcome change. In practice change has happened, gaps have emerged – advice gaps, capability gaps and gaps worst of all -knowledge gaps.
We have to welcome change or we risk calamity. This week I will be meeting with the largest pension consultancy on the planet. Their research team has asked to meet with us. I do not fully understand the agenda but I know that I am dealing with people who put their reputation above their wallets.
If you want to help us change pensions then you can support us in a number of ways.
You can visit the website and look around, comment on what you see and investigate the features already there.
You can visit our linked in group and join in the industry debate within its wall garden.

The world has changed and so have we, will you change too?

This was first published on pension playpen

About henry tapper

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