Is there a place for digital advice in pensions?


hi res playpen


I spoke yesterday at the Pershing Conference in Westminster. My pal David Calfo who is managing many of the seismic changes at the University Superanuaition Scheme  spoke with me and the session was chaired by Pershing’s Gerard Wellesley. It all went rather well.

The success of our session, which discussed the role of the IFA in 2015 in helping people make use of their new pension freedoms, was down to what came before, a brilliant debate between Nick Hungerford (CEO of Nutmeg) ,Emily Haisley, behaviouralist at Barclays Wealth and Michael Hall of Deutsche.

I tweeted during their debate



and indeed the debate challenged the role of the “analogue” adviser with a vigour that was both fresh and disturbing. Nutmeg have set out to change things and Hungerford’s approach is highly disruptive

Looking at my tweets I read

I hope these spontaneous remarks posted from the floor give an idea of the dynamic that was created.

It seems to me that for Nutmeg, and this goes for Pension Play Pen , the challenge is as much from its peers as from the scope of what it is trying to do.

If you’ve got time , watch Nick in action- this video is really only worth watching from minute 20 onwards – there’s about an hour of it

What’s scary is that Nick isn’t trying to be disruptive, he doesn’t seem to be trying at all!

In fact, in super-confident Nick Hungerford’s world, things happen his way – he just lives in a different paradigm.

I’ve no doubt that Hungerford is making sense to the people who don’t do investments (as well as people like me who do).

Pension PlayPen like Nutmeg uses what Nick called “rules based algorithms to get good outcomes”. Our rules work for the 90% of people who want to be guided to a decision that makes sense, not to the 10% who want to forge their own decision making process.

Nutmeg like Pension PlayPen puts financial decision making in second place to living and working.

Nick seemed quite happy for his team to be chatting on a webcam sitting on the side of someone’s screen while they got on with whatever work they were doing.

And I was struck by a brilliant observation by Emily Haisley, “people are more honest to a computer than face to face”.

I think there’s a real deep truth here, we are more candid with the machine, even when we know there is someone or something on the other side of the screen analysing what we input.

The motto for the future must be “engage,educate and empower” and this is what digital technology is doing for the new generations of people coming into the workforce and for people like me , tapping into the power of the web.

We are on the edge of a revolution in pensions where up to 400,000 people a year are going to be asked to manage their financial affairs in later life with freedoms unimaginable twelve months ago.

We need to play catch up to get to people, we need to use the new technologies in a way that Nutmeg and Pension PlayPen are pioneering.



nutmeg 2

About henry tapper

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