“And the language that he used!” Does Workie speak?

rolling stone 

Go to him now, he calls you- you can’t refuse

If you ain’t got nothing- you got nothing to lose!

Great lines taken out of context from Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone“. The link takes you to a cover of the song that’s (IMO) better than Dylan’s original.

Dylan is singing about a woman cast out from the high life she’s been leading who has to make a deal  with “Our Napoleon in rags”, the mystery tramp – Dylan’s metaphor for the real world.

The party’s over for Dylan’s Little Miss Lonely and now she’s going to have to learn how to live out on the streets.

I feel the same way about pensions.

“you said you’d never compromise….”

And like Dylan’s Doll, we’re going to have to learn a new language if we’re gong to survive in the “real world”. I met the new Shadow Pension Minister on Monday. She used a word that I hadn’t heard in pensions before “honesty”.  It was a striking word, I’d never thought that we’d have to change to be honest – but she was right, there is a dishonesty about some of the things we do, we are living the high life and promising the same, but our words can give the lie to our actions.

The time is coming when we have to confront reality and…

“he ain’t selling any alibis, when you stand in the vacuum of his eyes”

What has “Workie” got to do with pension research?

I had an interesting discussion on a social media site with an MD of an IFA complaining that I was abusing pensions with the word “Workie”

What has ‘workie’ got to do with this research? Provider effectiveness & sme engagement with AE are surely two different things?

and again….

I must be mistaken. I thought ‘workie’ was the DWP furry animal creation used in an advert to raise awareness. I didn’t realise it had also entered the seemingly endless lexicon of pension jargon to describe workplace pensions!!

Well this is just the point of Like a Rolling Stone. There comes a time when the social whirl unravels and when you come down to earth and then you start meeting some cold realities.

A new way of talking

“Workie” has nothing to do with the ivory tower of pension research but everything to do with workplace pensions. If we can’t find a way to talk about workplace pensions that appeals to those hundreds of thousands of employers who have to buy a “Workie” for their staff, then we’ll be left “scrounging for our next meal”.

Our intention in publishing “Measures of Support” was to explain the differences people see in the Workies of 6 workplace pension providers in simple terms. You can see how well we did (or didn’t) do by pressing this link

Thanks to Professional Pensions for the oxygen of publicity, this is how they reported our meeting yesterday to launch the paper

There’s nothing so hard to embrace as change..

I know why the traditional adviser finds it so hard to advise on auto-enrolment because I am one. It is so hard to learn the new rules of the street when we’ve had it our way so long.

It’s hard for us to accept that a furry animation of a monster might be a symbol of a workplace pension, or to accept that the Workie is homeless, hapless, helpless and inarticulate. Because that implies that we too are ignoring the workplace pension – at least the workplace pension of the future.

Workie is a metaphor for disruption as much as Dylan’s Rolling Stone is a metaphor for the social revolution happening in America in the sixties. If the public take to Workie, then we may have not just a new word for “Pension” but a new honesty about what a workplace pension can do.

Workie is deeply serious, as Paul Lewis describes Pension PlayPen “it’s a lot more serious than it sounds”. We may be playful with Workie and the PlayPen, but we can be in deadly earnest in out intent. At our meeting yesterday Tor Oliphant of the DWP explained just how seriously they are taking Workie, we were advised to do the same.

In the promotion of yesterday’s blog, I asked the question “Is Workie working”, in as much as it is challenging us to ask what the research is for and who the research is for, I think Workie is.


There was one very cute question from the floor (I think from Helen Morrissey)

Will Workie speak?

I wanted to say something about “dumb eloquence”, of “negative capability” but the I remembered the song we sing to opposing fans when they try to wind us up

You say it best – when you say nothing at all


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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4 Responses to “And the language that he used!” Does Workie speak?

  1. George Kirrin says:

    Don’t ya tell Henry, but no one sings Dylan like Dylan …

  2. henry tapper says:

    I thought that too! Andy Young prefers the Rolling stones singing the song at the 02 a few years back. I love the Dylan version too!

  3. Anthony Carty says:

    I don’t mind being requoted Henry – I’m sure you would agree that open debate & inquisitiveness are healthy! I suppose that being at the raw coal face of AE advice as a firm does to a certain extent hopefully afford me the latitude to cast an opinion. Our clients are certainly the ‘S’ of ‘SME’ and I would contend (based on our experience) that ‘Workie’ as a symbol is having precious little effect in terms of hauling business owners over the line in terms of AE preparedness. It’s last minute central…

    That said, I think that is the nature of the beast as opposed to a furry monster being the character of choice insofar as awareness is concerned. Frankly, Demi Moore, George Clooney & HRH The Queen would be equally ineffective ….. It is what it is.

    You will bang the drum, we will bang the drum, others will bang the drum & that will be what makes the difference.

  4. George Kirrin says:

    You and I travel to the beat of a different drum.

    But Dylan might say: … for Hallowe’en give her a trumpet and for Christmas buy her a drum.

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