Any questions on the Guidance Guarantee?

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This blog is about a conversation I had with the Pension Advisory Service. Following it I promised to feed back questions to TPAS about the Guidance Guarantee.

The blog contains questions I want asking , some background on TPAS and its CEO Michelle Cracknell and a call to action which I hope you’ll answer.

TPAS’ problem.

Michelle Cracknell’s diary looks pretty full. If she does no more than meet her speaking obligations over the next three months she will be busy, but these are the months when the jaw-jaw turns into hard law and by April of next year, the queue will be forming for guidance sessions. Michelle knows that delivery is more than public pronouncements.

I suspect that most people looking to exercise their freedoms will do so whether guidance is available or not, so a delay in delivery is tantamount to a broken promise.

With the general election scheduled for a month after the new freedoms take effect, the delivery of guidance has political as well as social importance. We need to know that this is going to work- if all our work is not to suffer collateral damage.


What is needed!

We want answers to questions – now! Many employers are preparing benefit statements which will be their final communication before April. For many employees this will be their last regular announcement. Insurers too are awaiting the details that will need to be incorporated in their wake-up packs and advisers with client in the zone need to be organising themselves in advance of GG Day.

How TPAS can help

With so many speaking engagements, Michelle has the opportunity to help. I am not sure whether she will be allowed to speak for the Treasury, but till the Treasury can speak for themselves she has become the de-facto spokesperson for the Guidance Guarantee.

She looks a little tired of telling the same people the same things. I spoke to her after her session at CA Summit and found her desperate for feedback. She’s asking what people want to know about the Guidance Guarantee.

How this blog can help

This blog can help as I know many who read this will be expecting to advise off the back of the guidance and some will even be hoping to help deliver the guidance itself. Others will be in the happy position of being able to enjoy the new freedoms.

To kick things off, here are ten questions I would like to ask – knowing that many cannot be answered till the Treasury delivers a formal announcement on delivery.

  1. What will guidance say about the risks of investing in an annuity?

  2. What will guidance say about the risks of drawing a pensions through income drawdown?

  3. Will guidance be bespoke and take into account individual circumstances (e.g. will there be a basic fact-find that governs what is said?

  4. Will guidance deliver specific mention of the opportunities to purchase extra state pension (especially for those close to state retirement age)?

  5. What will be the line on defined ambition? Will mention be made of further options that may be available from 2016?

  6. What will guidance say  about tax?

  7. Will guidance talk about the risks of living too long and of long-term care costs?

  8. Will guidance talk about property , equity release and risks about inheritance?

  9. How will advice be signposted and what directory of advisers will be used?

  10. What will be the options for “one to many” group sessions and how will they be delivered?

There are lots of other questions I’d like to know- (what is the Guidance Guarantee going to be called in future- how will the levy to pay for it work- what are the latest estimates of take-up and  will an employer (or union) prepared to pay for financial education for staff get  an incentive for doing so).

But these are second order questions. The leaked results of the L&G survey on guidance take-up are already in the public domain. The marketing and take-up of the Guaranteed Guidance is a matter of speculation, it does not- in itself impact on the offer to those people benefiting from (and vulnerable to ) the pension freedoms.

These second order questions are nice to know, the questions about what people will get in sessions are material to the management of the communication of 2015 to our clients/members/friends.


How you can help!

If you want to post your questions on this blog please do so. If you want to post them on the threads on which this blog appears, please do so, and if you want to write to me at , please do so.

I would like to build up a document of ” asked questions” which I can deliver to Michelle , which she can deliver to the Treasury;  – and I’d like to do this , this week (e.g. by the 19th of October).

So please put your fingers to keyboard and let me know as you read this blog. Unless you ask for the questions to be attributable , they will not be attributed to you.

I cannot promise that questions will be answered specifically, but I can promise they will get to the right people (and if only by Michelle) properly considered.

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About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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3 Responses to Any questions on the Guidance Guarantee?

  1. Duncan S says:

    Hi Henry,
    Raising awareness of these issues is a very worthy thing to do and thank god for people like you who create the means!

    For me guidance will surely end up having to be some kind of compromise. The scale of the exercise is so vast, it will need to embrace technology, provide easy to use but sophisticated tools and plain language to have any chance of landing most people anywhere close to the right place. It will need to be absolutely clear on it’s scope, inherant risks of each option, and explain the assumptions used in any modelling tools.

    However, with the drawdown option now looking so compelling even for smaller funds, my concern is that with our debt laden society many of these pots will get emptied pretty quickly. Mind you, if the guidance is able to provide appropriate warning signals then we are still in a better place than forcing annuity purchase on the uninitiated, and perhaps using pension pots to rid themselves of Wonga loans is no bad thing!

    Maybe not quite the picture George had in mind when annoucing these sweeping changes and a far cry from the Lambo brigade, but unfortunately reality does get in the way of so many pipedreams! At last however pensions are becoming a credible savings medium, and even if the guidance guarantee doesn’t deliver the highly bespoke solution many really need, it will at least provide some protection against the worst choices people could make.


  2. Pingback: Second thoughts on pensions reform are emerging | ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC

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