You wait a summer for the pension policy bus and then two come together!
This morning’s the Treasury big reveal when they’ll be rolling out plans for the pension dashboard at Aviva’s Digital Garage in “trending Hoxton”.
There’s a pleasing symmetry; the Treasury’s coming to an outpost of modernity in the financial services sector while the TTF has more in common with Wat Tyler, a sort of peasant’s revolt against king and robber barons.
While we know the agenda for the mainstream fund managers lies elsewhere (see recent blogs), today’s debates will be focussing on what ordinary people have been calling for. a clear view of what they own and a clear view on what they’re paying to have it managed.
Both the pensions dashboard and pensions transparency are issues that are low on the agenda for the fund managers and investment consultants. The PLSA , which has for the past three decades managed the pension industry’s relationship with the FCA has only marginal impact on the debate.
Instead, it has been those industry figures with the agility and energy to consult, congregate and publicise their point of view, who are turning heads in the lobby.
The TTF has managed what it has through the endeavour and courage of Andy Agethangelou backed by dedicated campaigners including Chris Siers, Con Keating ,David Pitt-Watson, Ralph Frank and Colin Meech. The major PR firms have not been part of the TTF lobby and the industry trade bodies, most importantly the Investment Association, have become a trampoline to launch the TTF to public awareness.
Here’s a video of TTF head honcho Andy Agethangelou spreading awareness. Thanks to Robin Powell of the Evidenced Based Investor for this;
Skilful use of the press and social media has trumped the established methods of the Westminster village. Those attending the meeting this afternoon include a number of decision makers in Government, Andy and his colleagues are greatly to be congratulated.
The Digital lobby
I mentioned in my blogs last week, how the innovation of Fintech seemed to be passing the asset management and investment consultancy industry by. Delivering information to people – preferably via hand-held devices , has become a preoccupation of the digital lobby.
Whether it be the scrapers such as Moneyhub and Intelliflo , or the plumbers like Altus and Pensionsync or the insurers like Aviva, there’s a hustling mob of digitally savvy , entrepreneurially minded individuals who are every bit as dynamic as the TTF. Good on the Treasury for listening and choosing to make their announcements not in Whitehall but in London’s beating Fintech heart.
I don’t know what to expect from this morning , but I am a lot more hopeful that there will be deliverables, when I’m heading to Hoxton!
Why today’s important
Today’s events are significant in a number of ways.
They tell me that innovation in pensions is coming from the upwardly thrusting – consumer driven – independents , rather than the established consultants and asset managers.
They also tell me that the Government is listening to these new voices and promoting their ideas to the fore. Shocking as it may seem to the establishment for us not to have a Minister of State in charge of pensions, it is doubly shocking to see the only interview Richard Harrington has given so far was to Money Marketing (a retail trade mag).
The retailisation of pensions from a DB culture to a world of freedom and choice, has caught the established players on the wrong foot. As I found last week, there is precious little innovation coming from the traditional asset managers and investment consultants. Sitting as I do within a traditional consultancy, I know how hard it is for us to reinvent ourselves as relevant to this new retail environment.
But we must.
Today is a litmus test of the Government’s position on two of the great issues of today. It is a litmus test of where the pension industry is heading in terms of its future relevance.
I look forward to reporting more in 24 hours.