I woke up to news that the Pension Play Pen RBS bank account can now be accessed by my iphone using fingertip security. Apparently mobile technology has outwitted clunky old pc technology which makes my thumb all that stands between us and a good time.
This is good news for those looking to enjoy Cheltenham Festival Freedoms on March 10th but won’t give much merriment to people like me , hoping that the pensions industry would be providing people with pension bank accounts from April 6th.
WHAT PEOPLE HEAR
“Oh good” , I thought.when George Osborne announced that people would be free to draw their pension savings as they liked, “this will mean insurers, third party administrators and SIPP providers will wake up to the 21st century”.
I naively thought that instead of sitting on their hands, as they have done ever since 1987 when personal pensions “set us free”, that we would start giving people what they want, instant access to their money when they reach a certain age.
I now look at 55 as 53 year old as I looked at 18 as a 16 year old, as a time when a whole shedload of freedoms will be visited upon me. It is not the reality of a Lamborghini but the dream of one -or at least the chance to see a positive balance when I thumb my iphone, that makes me smiley.
But having smiley customers is clearly not one of the core values of our financial service partners on whom we rely for the delivery of such freedoms. Far from opening the doors, up go the shutters and we now have a pensions Maginot line – the second line of defence -to protect ourselves. Over protection rarely results arousal.
WHAT PEOPLE WANT
I am not a behavioural scientist, but I have witnessed everyone from my children to my grandparents frustrated by the dangling carrot they never quite can reach. Offer me the opportunity of taking my money when I want, letting me imagine the button that says “withdraw now” and a big number after it and I feel happy, secure – fulfilled.
I may not , indeed I will not blow it all at once, I just want you to – well – show me my money!
This is not the same as showing me a unit holding and a notional amount that is sitting in some fund I do not understand. Pension Freedom is not playing with stochastic models that show me when my money is likely to run out depending on 50 shades of economic theory. All of these things I can do later.
“We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge”
~ John Naisbitt
When you get to the seaside, you don’t want to do a tour of the town , or of your B&B, you want to see the sea. The sea is the one tangible certainty of the seaside, all the rest-even the sandy beach is incidental.
So when I finally access my pension account , I don’t want a piece of paper describing a process and setting out settlement terms, I want a button I can press that lets me at my money.
WHAT PEOPLE GET
So come on everyone, stop treating us as idiots, there is a button that stops the train between stations but no-one presses it. There is a button on this laptop that could wipe the hard drive, but I’m not going to press it. The sea might drown me, but I’m not going to let it.
The technology exists to let me access my pension as I want to, it exists for the banks through thumb recognition on an i-phone. 7,10, 14 days settlement periods leading to a cheque in the post is not freedom, sending birth and marriage certificates, passports and utility bills via recorded delivery is not freedom.
Freedom is the capacity to do whatever you want to do, and knowing you will almost certainly do the right thing – the right thing by you.