You’ve probably seen the splurge of advertising for Pensions Wise, as it eases towards a new brand. Odd! Someone’s got a budget to burn!
In a couple of months we’ll have a new brand and a whole load more rules about not being able to misrepresent it. The fact is that the Pensions Wise brand has hardly become a household name, whatever it gets replaced by, will struggle to get the brand recognition of TPAS.
It looks like the Government (or at least the Treasury) has moved on. It is now excited by the Pensions Dashboard which gives them access to the Digital Garages of Hoxton, much more sexy than sorting out the complexities of the pension system.
The premise of the Dashboard is that with aggregated information in the palm of your hand, you will be able to take complex financial decisions with through digital modellers. This is about as realistic as Pensions Wise being able to offer advice (remember George Osborne’s budget rabbit).
I did my Pensions Wise session and I loved it. It was a thrill to talk about my money (instead of everyone else’s). It was great to know I was going to do the best of a difficult job and I’m happy with the choices I made. I’m waiting for a way to convert my DC pot to pension – one day my prince will come and he won’t be called Prince Annuity!
I can just about see all my DC money on one website (there’s a little legacy waiting release from high exit fees in April – thanks Zurich). But am I really going to be better off for knowing that my DC pot went down £498 (as it did today)? Or will I feel elated when it goes up £500 tomorrow? Seeing my pot valued on a daily basis is really not doing me any good at all!
Ironically, were I to take a penny of it, I would lose a chunk of my employer’s contribution to my pension (thankfully more in aggregate with mine than £4,000) , and every pound I contribute now takes me further beyond my LTA. All my dashboard is doing is depressing me.
I read today , (Princess) Margaret Snowden calling for occupational pension schemes to be drafted into project Dashboard with the full force of Treasury Compulsion. RTI for pensions. C\n the trustees of these schemes really afford to adapt their systems to securely pass real time data to the Dashboard? Is there any business justification that suggests the cost will be worth the demands on sponsors (already paying deficit reductions – for the most part)? Is there any data standard that the administrators of these schemes can look at or comment on?
Or are the 17 insurers , each paying £50,000 pa to participate in the project, going to tell our pension administrators what to do. If so, I hope they make a better fist of it than they did when they tried to organise payroll at the start of auto-enrolment.
The worm has turned and the Government has – for the moment – put advice and guidance on the back-burner. They are now embracing the Pensions Dashboard with the same enthusiasm as they did MAS and then Pensions Wise. Each new iteration of the empowerment project will fall short of their expectations. One day the Government will learn that the majority of us really don’t want to learn enough about money to be bothered with the Dashboard.
Most of us, when we put our minds to it, are saving for a pension , which – in our feeble way, we take to be an amount of money – paid like our salary – into our bank account every month. We don’t need dashboard to manage this process, we need a pension.
One day, instead of it’s infographics about ISAs, the Treasury will wake up to this very obvious fact. In the meantime here is the world according to some 20 something idiot who has no experience of saving whatsoever!