As I cleared immigration this morning, the chap charged with checking my travel authorisation asked me..
“so how are we doing over here?”
I looked blankly..
“it says here you’re a pension consultant – how we doing?”
To the annoyance of those behind me in “the line” , he started telling me about how his 401Ks and IRAs were coming right for him and he’d be gone from his job in two months to spend more time with the grandkids.
“I bet they’ll be pleased”
I quipped, with tired irony in my voice.
It turns out that it would be a matter of complete indifference to the grandkids whether pops was around or not, but heh- pops was about to come into a shed load of money.
I am not used to this kind of stuff, so I asked what a shed load of money might be. It turned out to be around $200,000 in total. If the grandkids’ interest in pops was purely financial, I expect it will be short-lived.
Now don’t get me wrong…this guy’s clearly a diamond. I could see the other officers chuckling away as pops delivered his proud and rick grandfather routine not for the first time that day. Nonetheless, he was suffering from what one economist termed “irrational exuberance”.
I guess this is the point I’m supposed to deliver some rant about these pension freedoms, but all I can think about (apart from breakfast) is that man’s genuine happiness to be free of financial worry.
I am now in my swanky Manhattan hotel, contemplating a day with swanky pension people and I wonder just how many guys like this fellow they get to meet of a day.
There seems to me a lot of confusion on both sides of the pond about personal wealth and retirement income security. Was this guy getting much help with the retirement income security? Had his new found wealth blinded him to his longer term issues- it all sounded horribly familiar.
I wasn’t going to disabuse him of his happy state. I reckon this guy was happy in his DNA, which is something I’ve found quite uplifting about the colonialists – something we could do with a little more of back in blighty.
Whatever our concerns about the money running out, ruinous charging structures, pounds cost ravaging et al. , what most pension consultants lack is the infectious love of growing old that the chap at the immigration desk was dishing out.
I made this point last week when I spoke to pension consultants in London and I’ll make it again over here, it is our job to restore people’s confidence in pensions. That was exactly what this chap was doing – despite it being his pension that he was confident about, despite it not being a pension but a fistful of dollars that he was grinning over!
Some day -back in the day, this man must have participated in a defined benefit plan, perhaps the benefits were underpinning his confidence. He may have some Federal pension rights – he looked that kind of guy.
But – and this is the takeaway – it was the money he’d saved for himself- in 401k and IRAs that he was proud of.
I suppose this is what the utility of a DC pot comes down to – the warm glow that he did it his way.