I am concerned about the destination of the pensions of thousands of British workers build up over decades.
In a recent blog tried to point out that accepted wisdom that the PPF is a bad destination may not always been the case. In another blog I made a case against glib advice to transfer to investment driven financial products driven by fear (consumer) and greed (adviser).
In this third blog I want to look at ways that ordinary people can make informed choices about their retirement finances without incurring unnecessary advisory fees. This is not my way of saying that advisory fees are unnecessary – I’m saying they should only be incurred when there is a need to incur them. I appreciate this is not what many advisers want to hear, many argue that we need to take advice about whether we need advice, but this leads to the kind of infinite regression that points to madness.
As Jon Spain told us recently, occupational pension schemes were not invented so that we could have a pensions industry; similarly transfer values weren’t introduced to give financial advisers something to do. Property rights, in the form of a cash equivalent to a defined benefit (CETV) are a relatively new invention. They only exist for certain types of scheme, you cannot get a CETV on your state pension or on most Government sponsored d defined benefit rights. They offer a freedom which was broad when CETVs were introduced in 1987 and got broader with the Pension Freedoms that arrived in 2015.
There is however a snag with CETVs – they offer low hanging fruit as in the garden of Eden, that fruit comes with responsibility. Fans of Adam and Eve are humanists who argue that life outside the garden was full of freedom and choice and that Eden was a dull place where no one even noticed they were naked.
The trouble for Adam and Eve came down the line with all kinds of shenanigans between Cain and Able and we all know the rest. Eden, like pension transfers, had a door that only opened one way.
The analogy does not stretch – and I won’t cast the serpent!
Of course “freedom and choice” was not necessary in the garden of Eden and I’ve always wondered about the point of snakes.
I wonder too whether we need property T on private defined benefit pensions. They attract flies like decaying meat.
But ordinary people like the right to take their money back , even if they don’t use it. We see people marvel at the range of investment choices available to them in a DC plan- without ever using them. And we see people entering into drawdown – without ever spending their money. We are delighted by the prospect of choice but frightened to exercise it.
The best thing that advisers can do for most people is to explain to them what their choices are without implying that staying where they are is anything but an acceptable option.
People like to know that they can ask what they like and get an answer, without asking the question.
Most of all people want to know that what they have will do, even if there are alternatives.
Right now we are disturbing people from the security of their prospective pension and offering them nothing but a speculative investment.
This is like the apple from the forbidden tree, it looks great – offers freedom – but ultimately leads to problems.
A good job would be to point out that mankind has been here before.