FINANCIAL UNDERSTANDING – what one insurer’s doing to improve things.


A lot of people think that big financial institutions prey upon the ignorance of the public. Many have, many have treated their customers as seals to be clubbed on the beach.

Part of the problem for insurers was that they lost control of their products some time in the late eighties. Getting people to understand the products that insurers produced was handed over to financial advisers. Insurers lost direct contact with their customers, To use today’s parlance- the relationship was “intermediated”.

The problem with intermediation is that it removes the customer from being someone you hold dear to a number on the spreadsheet.

But not all insurers just off-loaded. I remember being an IFA in the late eighties and in the nineties and while many insurers were teaching IFAs how to maximise the value of their client bank, Legal and General were worried about how we were treating their customers. L&G never lost sight of their responsibility to their customers and did not break the link.

That ethos still holds true. Earlier this week, L&G approached me to publicise their concerns about the lack of financial understanding among their customers.

This is what L&G wrote

Worryingly, one in three (33%) people approaching retirement (aged 55-64) admit they don’t understand annuities and more than one in four (26%) say they don’t understand how personal pension plans can be accessed.

And this is what they wanted me to tell people.

To help people feel confident about their finances, we’re giving people the chance to ask money questions to a series of independent experts via a number of Google Hangouts.

Our next hangout, taking place on 27 March, will focus on Pensions & Retirement with our CEO, Nigel Wilson, acting as moderator. Anyone can tune in to watch the broadcast live and see if their question is answered or just listen in on the discussion.

You can access the conversation here , I want to know whether Wilson agrees with this?

how long will your pension last?

If you’ve got questions for Nigel Wilson, you can post them on L&G’s Facebook Page at

or you can tweet  @landg_uk using #MoneyHangout

If this sounds like the most patronising crap you have ever read then say so, but remember that guys like Nigel Wilson don’t get to talk to customers much, they want to know what it is like to be one.

If you’ve got a second now, we all would  be interested in your view!

Don’t give the man an easy time – he might get lazy!

My experience of being an L&G customer is mixed. I think they’re trying hard but when I tried to bring all my money together into one big L&G pot, it was terrible. I had to speak to people in Hove and Cardiff and Kingswood and London and everyone wanted me to be talking to a financial adviser. I fed this up the line and got my problems sorted out but that was me knowing my way around. If I was not a pension expert I would have given up and would probably still have pots in lots of places.

I’m no great fan of L&G’s systems, they can be old and clunky and their idea of a pension bank account is waiting two weeks for your money. I’m going to talk with them about how they can do better replacing old technology with new stuff so people can have their money on demand.

But I’m glad that Wilson is taking time out from talking up the share price to analysts to getting some feedback from customers.

Put it in your diary now!

So if you are a policyholder, or if you are a boss running an L&G workplace savings plan, or if you aren’t either but just want to know what Wilson thinks about the new freedoms and guidance and advice and tax and investments and annuities, then why not dial in?

And dial in if you are someone who has to advise on this stuff. Especially if you are worried about your client’s financial understanding.

It seems to me that the only way we are going to get matters sorted , is by listening to each other. I will be dialling in on the 27th  MARCH between 10 and 10.30 am and I’ll be listening out for you!

About henry tapper

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