I am not saying this because I agree with everything that is going on, or even with everything that friends like Michelle Cracknell are saying, but because if we continue to talk Pension Wise down, we do it and the business of restoring confidence in pensions a dis-service.
Which is exactly what we are not about, at work or play.
I may have to take some blame, I have allowed some contrarian views to be expressed on this website. Perhaps people assume that I endorse guest blogs (which I don’t). But if that’s the perception, let me be clear – Pension Wise is what we have, it is not going to go away and it is a lot better than nothing.
This may not be a ringing endorsement and I can’t give it a massive thumbs up because I have seen just how little strategic thinking has been going on within the Treasury on how the public will be protected. The political imperative so far exceeds the need to be circumspect that Pension Freedoms sometimes seem like a runaway train.
But if we have someone at the controls, using the breaks and the gears to avoid the train crash, it is Pension Wise. We may moan that TPAS is under-resourced, but it has never failed its public yet. We may moan that the CAB is not to date a source of pension knowledge, but we forget that many people trust the Citizens Advice Bureaux a lot more than they trust us advisers. We may laugh at MAS for its past follies, but it is a resource we pay for that we run down at our peril.
Taken together, Pension Wise presents a holistic approach to guidance. It will not tell people what to do, but it will – in a variety of ways- tell them what to think about, and , in the absence of a lot of thoughtlessness, that is a very good thing.
So before you tweet or comment or quip about Pension Wise, remember the bigger picture. We represent pensions to the 32 m working people in this country who do not get pensions and see us as the high priests of an arcane world of jargon and complexity. We get remarkably well paid for doing our PR so badly.
I know that many of the people who are running Pension Wise down are brilliant at what they do , but typically, they see “what they do” – not what others are doing.
With an election round the corner, the gloves will be coming off and we can look forward to the usual punch and judy antics. No doubt there will be plenty of ribald comment directed against Pension Wise in the interests of points scoring. It will be only too easy for us to join this band-wagon and de-rail the train as it flies down the tracks.
Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen. Let’s get behind those who are trying to make Pension Wise work, with a bit of luck – it will.
Pension Wise will not replace advice or advisors, but it will – with our support keep the runaway train on the tracks long enough for us to work out how to find a lasting settlement to the problems of post-retirement income we (and everyone else) currently face.