A victim of Osborne’s success
We were a victim of George’s success on Monday (7th April) as nearly 40 of us spilled out of the gallery room and occupied most of the Counting House’s second floor! Handing over £500 in cash I wondered whether I would have to fill in a money laundering form when paying the bill.
A capacity crunch
Such a large turn out for a discussion on “can we be trusted to manage our finances in later life”, would have been unthinkable on March 7th. Such is the impact of Osborne’s budget proposals that as well as the 38 of us who made it, I had 17 apologies on the day (and these were people who really wanted to come!).
The format of the lunch, a 50 minute discussion, topped by a pint, tailed by a pie, allows everyone to have their say and I’m pleased to say everyone did. I have never seen such uninhibited discussion, such laughter and so much consideration and concision in what was said.
32 for ; 6 against
Events like this come rarely and are to be treasured. For the record 32 hands showed confidence that we could manage our new found freedoms and 6 showed against.
The six who voted against (and one had to be mine- as devil’s advocate) were expressing a caution that the infrastructure of guidance and the full range of choice is yet to be set in place.
Product development must focus on the squeezed middle
My view is that the market reforms to the needs of its customers. The pre 2015 at retirement options clearly do not meet the need of middle England and one of the themes of the debate was that here was an opportunity for us to find an acceptable alternative to those squeezed between state dependency and wealth management, those neither wealthy nor poor, those looking for average solutions.
The guidance guarantee must not be a token gesture
Another theme was the importance of making the Guidance Guarantee more than a token gesture. Many spoke of how new technologies could be applied to deliver. When I was last at TPAS, I watched a video call being conducted by a 60 year old adviser and someone on their mobile phone. This gave me hope
A third theme was how relaxed people seemed about the impact of the changes on DB plans. “Let the ropes fly” seemed to be the message from the actuaries, regulators, investment consultants and trustees in the room. Whether we see mass migration to the sunny uplands of this brave new world or people stick with the guarantees within their existing schemes remain to be seen. A cynic would argue that employers could be looking at the de-risking opportunity that disenfranchises millions, we seemed to see this as the opportunity to opt-out of security.
Of course such sessions are not representative, but having been now to 52 if the 53 consecutive monthly lunches since November 2009, I have never seen so much excitement, such eagerness to make things work and such a brash and bold vigour among us.
We have a mammoth task ahead of us , but the message of the Pension Playpen lunch group which should echo in Canary Wharf, Brighton and Whitehall is this.
“We’re up for it”.
This post first appeared in http://www.pensionplaypen.com- top thinking