When does “creative disruption” become “scaremongering”?

ezra pound

It’s an important question to anyone who is involved with the BSPS.

Today is the penultimate of Time to Choose, over the past week, the main job has been to encourage those who have not made an active choice, to at least sign and return a form saying if they want to go to the Government Lifeboat (PPF) or join BSPS2.

The secondary matter, but one far more acute for those involved, is to help those who are taking decisions on transferring away from BSPS into a private arrangement. Some of these people are still applying for CETVs , some have CETVs stuck in the pipeline and some are out (and are worrying). Infact most people are worrying – which isn’t a good thing to do on St Lucy’s Day (21st and shortest day of the year).

I worry too; I’m worried that people will sleep walk into the PPF and wake up wondering why their benefits have taken a haircut. I worry too that the disruption I and others have created may be the cause of needless anxiety to those who are transferring. I worry in particular about  the disruption we have caused to those leaving those who have chosen advisers who have (following discussions with the FCA) stopped advising on transfers.

There’s no such thing as a free whinge!

On the other hand, I know of pension trustees who have known about scamming and have said nothing, fearing the legal implications of acting outside the comfort zone of the trustee toolkit. As I wrote yesterday , “here error is in the not done – all in the diffidence that faltered”.

There is an inbuilt inertia in our regulatory system arising from the suspicion that it is “someone else’s job”. Consequently, it is easier to say and do nothing.

Where the issues involved are to do with “best practice”, I think it’s understandable. The good Samaritan helped out the robbed man but he did not beat off the robbers.

But that was because he turned up after the traveller had been turned over. If he’d chanced upon the assault would he have waded in or walked away?

If the Good Samaritan were at it today, he would have probably been best advised to get on his phone, dial 999 and stand by to help if needed. I suspect that’s where most of us would be , if we had the courage of our convictions.

In our financial world, we don’t just have the option but the obligation to report financial crime. We have ways of doing it depending on how we are regulated, but for the most part, if we see a fraud we should report it to Action Fraud and to the Regulator(s). If we see fraud , we shouldn’t tip-off the people we suspect of criminal activity and we (I)shouldn’t be blogging about it!

Is this my business?

I am not a steel worker, nor am I employed to do work for them or their trustees or even their employers. I am not a regulator.

There is a temptation to say that this is someone else’s job, something everyone involved in Chive or other voluntary organisation should consider.

But to suppose there is a limitless resource at BSPS, the regulators and advisers is to ignore the facts. Megan Butler has 8 people working full time on transfers but even this is not enough. The investigation of the outcomes of advice could swamp the FCA.

The Pensions Regulator cannot patrol every decision taken by over 1m employer around auto-enrolment.

It is up to ordinary people to self-regulate and to call a shovel a shovel. That is why the members of the BSPS set up their Facebook pages, sometimes, the most valuable help is self help – and when you need and ask for help, it is good that you get it.

If I was to ask myself “is this my business”, I would answer “it is now”.

Am I scaremongering?

Somebody I’ve known and liked for 20 years, Mike Woodall, said I was scaremongering after reading my blog about the money flows from Active Wealth. Mike is brave enough to say what a lot of people won’t. The number of people who “disliked” the blog was obvious by it achieving the lowest possible star-rating at one point yesterday.

I am not impervious to criticism and I also know that while I think the advice and the investment solution stink, that is just my opinion. It is not illegal – it is -IMO – a rip-off – but it is not illegal!

A couple of times during the day, I took the blog down to hear from others who had intelligence I hadn’t. A bit like the ref during a TMO, I listened and then acted. The blog is up again. I guess this is my answer to myself, I don’t think I’m scaremongering.

But I’m not going to sit by and watch the discomfort of others. Much of yesterday was spent on the phone and email with regulators and advisers and those providing guidance seeing what can be done between now and tomorrow for those who have still not chosen and those who have until January 26th to exercise their guaranteed CETVs and February 16th to complete their paperwork to get out of BSPS and into their private arrangement.

I guess that the answer to my question rests in my capacity to help BSPS members to good outcomes. I don’t have that answer- yet.

Addendum – The Vanity of Human Wishes

There is another bit of that poem I quoted yesterday, in which Ezra Pound defines what is not “vanity”

What thou lovest well remains,

                                                  the rest is dross
What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage
At the end , we will be judged not by the error – “the not done” – but by what and how we loved. Pound was right – in the gloom the gold gathers the light against it.
Ezra Pound 2

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 When does “creative disruption” become “scaremongering”?

  1. Mark Meldon says:

    I don’t want to be pedantic, but I though St Lucy’s day was 13 December https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Lucy unless, that is you are using the “old calendar”!

    All the best for Christmas and 2018, Henry; you are a good man.

  2. henry tapper says:

    It’s the shortest day of the year in my book – but i suspect you’ve got a more up to date book Mark, the link takes you to the John Donne nocturnal

  3. Mark Meldon says:

    It is the shortest day and Donne is beautiful; it’s just that it isn’t St. Lucy’s day (officially).

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