My hour with Pension Wise (5 myths dispelled)


Pension Wise is in the news today as it is likely to form part of a new (yet to be named) single advisory organisation covering debt and pensions. 

At a time of uncertainty, I can add some certainty, the Pension Wise service I received through the Pension Advisory Service was certainly better than I had any reason to expect!

Here’s my story.

Being of an age (over 50) and considering options around my pensions and my pension pots, I phoned up Pension Wise to make an appointment.

Phone 0800 138 3944 to book a free appointment

I did so more in hope than expectation, assuming I would spend an hour ticking boxed before being told to see an IFA. It wasn’t like that at all, infact it busted every prejudice about the service I’d allowed to build up in my head. Here are those prejudices (myths) and why they’re bust.

Myth one – “It’s inconvenient”  – in truth it isn’t – it’s dead convenient

I was given two options, to have a meeting face to face or to do it over the phone. I chose “over the phone” because it was more convenient.  I got an appointment at 11.20- 12.00 and my (mobile) phone rang at 11.20 exactly.

Myth two- “it’s all about box-ticking” – in truth- while the meeting is structured- you don’t notice the process and the meeting is more of an adult conversation about money.

Like all good conversations , mine had a beginning, a middle and an end. We moved from getting to know each other, through the meat and two veg and so on to next steps. At no point in the conversation did I think we were wasting time or that my Pension Wise person was going through the motions

Myth three – you won’t get advice. I don’t care what they say- I felt I was advised.

Pension Wise define advice as “the provision of a definitive course of action”. It is true, I was not instructed what to do next. But I knew what to do next, I told myself that. I advised myself of my next steps and I’ve already taken them. Thanks to my guidance, I was able to take informed decisions on my own. I do not think I would have taken those decisions without my interview. Julian- my Pension Wise person, did not tell me what to do, but he made it easy for me to decide that for myself.

Myth four – it’s technical – it isn’t, it’s fun and easy

My financial affairs are complicated in terms of the people I look after, my health, my tax position, my future plans re work and in terms of what I want to spend in many decades I hope will pass between now and the day I die.

The technical matters- tax mainly -became so unimportant as I started thinking about the non-technical matters- most of which are listed above.  We get too frightened by doing the wrong thing to remember the right thing- which is to look at retirement positively, as I spent time with Julian, I started to visualise my retirement and how I could make the most of it. I can honestly say I have never done this before.

Myth five -you have to listen to a lot of nonsense.

I don’t remember much of what Julian said to me and suspect that there wasn’t much said. When I had a technical question he either answered it or put me on hold and came back with the answer from one of his colleagues. The point was that I was bouncing my ideas off Julian and Julian was doing most of the listening.

Having spent most of my life doing Julian’s job, I know that the answers are seldom with the person who’s supposed to be the expert, the answers are almost always with the person asking the questions. The combination of calm confidence and genuine interest I found in Julian made me listen to myself!

Why I recommend anyone over 50 to get a meeting with Pension Wise

The conclusions I came to about my own finances are not the subject of this blog. I’ve made a couple of mistakes in my planning which I am now putting right – these were the material outputs of the meeting. Less material but more a matter of approach, I now am confident of what I’m doing.

Julian was not a brilliant adviser, but he was a brilliant listener. He put me at ease throughout and allowed me to come to my own conclusions. He did not advise me, he let me advise myself. He used the structure of the meeting he had been taught, but I never felt I was part of a process. The meeting flew by and by the time we had finished we were twenty minutes over time. It was fun, the first thing I wanted to do when I had finished was to thank TPAS for making my Pension Wise meeting so rewarding.

As I’ve mentioned above, the meeting helped me to firm up my plans and on two minor points, to adjust them so that I don’t pay unnecessary amounts to the tax man and do have a simpler and easier time of it in the years ahead.

The best news of all is that I now have the TPAS number to call , if I need further help on pensions matters. I expect I’ll be calling them again soon!

Please make that call!

Everyone is different, I was a financial adviser myself for twenty years and I have been in pensions 33 years. I’ve saved hard all my life and will have a financially easy time of it in the years ahead. I don’t need to do much work if I don’t want to, but I am sure I will!

You may be just the opposite and thinking about Pension Wise with dread. I would advise you to make that call.

Because I had no expectation that Pension Wise could help and nearly didn’t bother. It helped me because my prejudices (my myths) all proved wrong.

I would be very surprised – should you have prejudices against Pension wise – if they weren’t wrong as well!


About henry tapper

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