Trial by twitter’s fine by me!

An IFA withdraws its transfer service complaining it’s the victim of “trial by twitter”.

Accountability is something that falls hard on adviser’s shoulders. Because we are in the business of longer term investment, the outcomes of our advice will typically be judged when we have long departed from the scene.

So the system of summary justice meted out by twitter to “the Pension Review Service” AKA County Capital Wealth Management has come as a shock.

It shouldn’t have.

Learn from feedback, don’t fight it.

Yesterday I was at SDWorx’s conference where its UK CEO told the audience it Net Approval Scores with its customers weren’t all they could be, he even went so far as to say he couldn’t do much right now about them – Doug Sawers was right on both counts! You can’t censor what your customers and prospects say about you, you can only influence what others say about you over time.


Now Pensions

NOW Pensions were flagged as failing their customers from the early days of their association with staffcare. Instead of doing what they are doing now – building a proprietary system to manage interfaces with payroll, they chose to outsource (to Staffcare).

This blog has repeatedly warned NOW not to do this, is suffered a trial by social media (I wasn’t the only one) and it is finally investing £4m in putting in a proper system. If NOW had licensed, it would have been a lot easier. Now’s trustees would not be being fined by the Pensions Regulator and customers would not be jumping up and down with frustration. NOW should have listened to social media and now it is paying the price.


If you, as a corporate, fall victim to a social media storm, as Aegon currently is, it is almost certainly your own fault and you will have to pay the price for so long as you stay in the hole.

Trial by twitter/youtube/blog is fine. It is the way to be held accountable in a way that you will not be held accountable by Regulators. The FCA will catch up with Aegon and require it to treat Pension Bee’s customers fairly, NOW will put their house in order (by April or presumably close its doors till it does).

Pension Transfer Review Service

As for the Pension Transfer Reviewers of County Durham, they have been weighed in the balance and found wanting. They have “volunteered” to cease dealing in transfers and now they are sulking off complaining that they have been hard done by.

Let’s remember that the biggest victims of social media in the Port Talbot affair are not “the Pension Review Service” but the FCA, who were given a good kicking by Frank Field in the Work and Pensions Select Committee.

Learn like SDWorx , BSPS and the FCA

I was there when the kicking happened and I don’t see the FCA whingeing about trial by social media. I hear plenty of people complaining that W&P is a kangaroo court and they all have one thing in common – they are terrified by the possibility of following the FCA.

The summary justice meted out by judge Frank Field, is an extension of social media. I had lunch with Allan Johnston , Chair of Trustees of BSPS yesterday, we talked of Stephen and Rich and David’s Facebook Pages, I pointed out that these guys were his Member Nominated Trustees for Time to Choose and he agreed. The Facebook pages remain critical of BSPS Trustees and their advisers and they are right to do so.

I now know that every criticism has been read by Allan Johnston and is ingrained on his soul!

What Allan has done, which clearly the management of the Pension Review Service has not done, is listened. BSPS will be dead in 7 weeks and the New BSPS will be born. Hopefully, the new BPSP will be more responsive to its members and better understand its member’s needs – I think it will.

Hopefully NOW pensions will be NOW Pensions II after April 2018 and maybe even Aegon will see sense!

Social media is not going away, people (including me) will continue to be trialled by Twitter and we will continually to be successful. I run (as Gregg McClmont calls it) the bully pulpit. This blog has earned its stripes over 10 years. If it didn’t have integrity it would have been shut down (see Aon’s unsuccessful attempt to “turn off the tap”). It would have been shut down by the firms who send my bosses at First Actuarial whingeing letters (this blog is nothing to do with them- see top right above) and it would have been shut down by the libel courts (which I am constantly threatened with).

There is nothing wrong with the immediate pillory that is social media. Sticks and stones can break your bones but words can never hurt you – unless that is , you are extremely vulnerable to the criticism you are receiving.

sticks and stones

And likening the bullying meted out for corporate shortcomings to the bullying we see in the class-room is as dumb as school-bullying.

We are in the business of providing good long-term outcomes. If you aren’t in the business of taking short-term criticism on social media, you shouldn’t be in business.

I was more impressed by Doug Sawyer’s attitude than I can say on this blog!

As for the Pensions Review service, it should grow up , take the criticism on board and move on,




About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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4 Responses to Trial by twitter’s fine by me!

  1. Amazing comment from Mark Abley of Pension Transfer Reviewers:

    ”The letter (from Mr Abley) also criticised the Operation Chive (counselling, help, information, volunteer, exchange) initiative, led by Al Rush of Echelon Wealthcare, in which many IFAs volunteered to offer free counselling sessions for British Steel members before Christmas.

    The letter described those involved as ‘well-meaning busybodies’ and said there would be commercial benefits for the advisers who travel to Port Talbot as part of these counselling sessions.”

    Breathtaking arrogance

  2. Iain W says:

    The FCA’s CEO Andrew Bailey dismissed most if not all of Frank Field’s comments giving examples of what they had been doing in the field (excuse the pun). Did Frank Field ever revert back to the FCA?

  3. henry tapper says:

    No, nor did he ever write to the Pensions Regulator , like what he said he wd!

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