The press offices of all the major insurers have been busy printing announcements of how they have seen a tenfold increase in enquiries about pension benefits this week.
Pension Wise has been open for bookings and Michelle Cracknell and the TPAS came in on the Bank Holiday Monday, reporting a busy day at the office. They’ve been so busy they haven’t tweeted all week.
Predictably there has been criticism of providers for standing in the way of instant access to money, including this article on the BBC website. “Predictably” as there is precious little incentive to offer customers the opportunity to take money away from you, when you’ve spent the past forty years enjoying healthy management fees on those very savings.
Despite this noise, it looks as if the vast majority of people have heeded Steve Webb’s warning and “stayed in bed”. Just as well…
Our research suggests that by and large, the major insurers are not ready for pension freedoms. Many are rolling out their plans but few appear to be “there yet”. Aegon for instance have an advised service but don’t expect their “to and through” platform to be ready for those without financial advisers to Q4 2015.
Others we have spoken to are technically able to deliver but are requiring customers to either shift product or agree to service standards which were devised when the GPO were “putting you through”.
If you want a picture of just how confused the picture is, read this from the Daily Mail on the options available to a woman with £100l in the pot who doesn’t want to pay for advice.
Pension Play Pen Lunch – Monday 13th – Counting House – 12 for 12.30pm
I’m looking forward to two events next week which will, in a relaxed way, allow people to share their experiences of customer reaction to the new freedoms.
On Monday, the Pension Play Pen lunch will be – as ever – at the Counting House and will be discussing “Pension Freedoms – how were they for you – and how is the system coping?”. We usually get 15 or so, rotund lunchers who are happy to “meet greet and eat the meat”
“One week on- how were freedoms for you?” Networking event Staples Inn- Tuesday 14th pm.
The following day, I am chairing a similar networking event in the evening at the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries.
You don’t have to be an actuary to Chair and you don’t have to be an actuary to come. Infact with free booze and free places, (thanks to First Actuarial) it’s well worth delaying your return home a couple of hours.
Here’s your hot panel of boy candy..
There are still one or two places available so click here if you want to go.
The amazing Margaret de Valois is behind the IFA event. The queen of surf is likely to be gracing us with her presence!
Here’s one of her in the dark ages before freedoms arrived.
And here she is – freed at last by that charming Prince George!
No laughing matter?
You may consider all this idle curiosity and poo-poo the sensationalist headlines that pensions have enjoyed these recent weeks, but you’d be mad to do so!
Pensions have been boring for too long, right now they are not and that’s the way it should stay. Helping people to organise their finances for later life is a serious business but we don’t have to be poe-faced as we go about it.
So I’m spending with Penny!