“Is it worth planning when the future’s so uncertain?”


Today is NEST Insight day;  it’s also TTF symposium day.  So I’ll be cycling from the City to the South Bank like Mark Cavendish (pre-crash).

At the TTF event, Beccy Young and Robert Finer will be presenting the FCA Asset Management Market Study . I’m pleased to hear that Andy Agethangelou has a place on the committee which will be supervising the introduction of new metrics. The TTF have screwed the FCA’s courage to the sticking post.

Meanwhile NEST have a day looking “beyond longevity. Here’s the blurb

People are living longer. That fact has become a truism. But what is the reality of longer lifespans for those who are now of working age?

NEST Insight’s second annual conference will move beyond the headlines to explore what longevity means for the ‘defined contribution generation’.

What does later life look like for those people – largely on lower-to-middle incomes – whose retirement income will depend on defined contribution pensions?

What challenges and opportunities will shape their long-term financial wellbeing?

What does an ‘optimal’ mix of savings products and behaviours look like for this group as they pick their way through competing calls on their income?

Which is all very well till you find out that

global leaders from the worlds of academia, public policy and industry will explore practical interventions to help drive better outcomes for this all-important group of savers.

I am one of those “global leaders”, (though I don’t feel, look, think or sound like one). I have been cast as the villain in a debate with Tom McPhail and a bunch of students. We will be debating

“Is it worth planning when the future is so uncertain”.

Squeaky clean Tom has bagged  the “of course it’s worth planning” position, leaving me to argue for feckless idiocy.

Before the debate, I am putting on the record the key arguments for and against.

Contention For Against
The future’s uncertain! Yes – we’ve no idea what we’ll need money so let’s just have fun while we can. No, we will grow old and stop working, we will die, we will pay taxes – nothing much changes
It’s not worth planning! So let’s leave it to the experts. Let’s do what we’re told and let others plan for us. I’m not saying “opt-out”, I’m just saying- chill! Like it or not, we’re taking the risk so we’ve got to plan.
Carpe Diem! Absolutely – you only live once. There’s no point reminiscing about the things you couldn’t afford to do! Save now – spend later -retirement is the longest holiday of your life
My house is my pension ! Well if it isn’t my house, it will be my parent’s house. If you haven’t got any houses in your family, what’s wrong with you! You can’t buy a sausage with a brick. Houses are illiquid and expensive to run. Your house is more likely to be a drain on your pension
The state will provide! We are a rich country, we can afford to pay proper state pensions, It pays to be feckless The Government should apply reasonable force to ensure everyone has enough for the future not to be a burden on the state, if you opt-out, then don’t expect to be bailed-out
Be positive! Obsessing about the risks of old age won’t help. Build  small, be trustworthy, make money You can and should take responsibility for yourself. You won’t want to be a burden on your family when you get old- you’ll want to support them with an inheritance
I hope I die before I get old! The way I’m going, I’ll be lucky to make state pension age! We are living longer and not shorter and the fact that you’re debating this suggests that you are likely to be around longer than most!

Any other arguments that you can think of prior to 2.30pm this afternoon should be inserted in the “comments” box below this blog or mailed to henry.h.tapper@gmail.com.

Don’t call me unbalanced – or I’ll fall off that bike!



About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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3 Responses to “Is it worth planning when the future’s so uncertain?”

  1. Eoin Sheahan says:

    “You’re asking me to invest in uncertainty”
    Why invest and lock away my hard earned money when another market crash could wipe out my savings just when I need them. Can you guarantee prudence will lead to reward?Remember 2008? I’d rather be a “Happy go lucky Henry” than a “Tame, threadbare, Tom”.

  2. John Mather says:

    Then there is the real world


    Why does the pensions industry ignore unfunded public servants schemes?

  3. henry tapper says:

    I don’t think the pensions world does ignore the unfunded public servants schemes or the state pension.

    In many ways these are Britain’s great success stories! But there is little in promoting that in the private sector!

    And I am talking “efficiency” not fairness. The cost of paying pensions the public/state sector way is small compared to the funded way.

    We should always be looking to the simple efficiencies of public sector unfunded schemes to find ways of making our funded equivalents more effective.

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