When organisations believe their own hype


The weird behaviourist thing about Volkswagon’s lack of emissional intelligence is that the “people’s car” is now disowned by its own people. Imagine how proud you must have been to work for VW, remember those proud adverts about the Golf, this was an organisation that so believed in its own product that it could carry out a decade long fraud firm in the belief that they behaved like this – it must be right.

Large organisations have little scope for objective introspection, there is no corporate sense of humour that accepts that the organisation might be wrong. VW has been riding to hell in a handcart and no-one saw the gates!

So when I read a headline such as Think Before you act George Osborne and discover

Industry bodies unite in their scepticism of shifting to TEE system and call on the government to think long term

I am a little sceptical.

Like VW, the pensions industry believes its own hype. Despite clear evidence to the contrary, it believes it is acting in the long term industry of the country, its clients, the members of the various schemes it has devised.


Collectively. “the pensions industry” is far from industrious. The industry talks a lot, at conferences, but it talks to itself. It does not run conferences for the people outside the industry, so the voices it heats are echoes. The only collective thing about that , is the capacity for collective myopia.

So like VW , the good volk of pensions suffer from a lack of emissional intelligence. I can think of nothing more laughable than telling a Chancellor – at the very top of his game – to think before he acts. The “pensions industry” was so  wrong footed by the announcement of the pensions freedoms it (the NAPF) issued a press relief to say it found them incomprehensible. Earlier this year, its Chair started a speech “with auto-enrolment almost over…”.

The pensions industry has quite forgotten what it is supposed to be doing and is now busy convincing itself – as the VW scientists have been doing- that it is right- despite all the evidence.

The evidence – such as it is – is that the general public prefer the certainty of TEE -where the know what tax they are paying, to the uncertainty of EET where they don’t. This is borne out by the numbers saving voluntarily into ISAs (and not cashing in before retirement) against the numbers paying voluntary contributions into pensions.

IF you want evidence, ask people who know – Martin Lewis, Paul Lewis – George Osborne.

The only part of the Professional Pensions article that made sense to me, were the comments of David Fairs who (as ever) is bang on the money.

“The changes under consultation could represent a real ‘revolution’ in pension provision, following closely on from the freedom and choice changes announced in 2014 and in force from earlier this year.”

Fairs suggests any proposals to alter the tax structure should be subject to full consultation and with sufficient time for implementation.

Fairs is fair, this shift to TEE – which I see as inevitable, needs – like AE – to be embedded gently, slowly but resolutely into the way we do things.

The pensions industry is broken. as VW is broken, it could not see it and is in denial. It still thinks it is in charge.

We will see on November 25th if I am right, but – in case anyone thinks the pension industry speaks as one, I’d urge them to read the Pension PlayPen’s response to the recently concluded Treasury consultation.

You can find it here



About henry tapper

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