I am submitting evidence on behalf of AgeWage, a company set up to help people work out if they are getting value for money from their pensions (and pension advice).
I am a Director of First Actuarial and Founder of Pension PlayPen. I appeared before the Committee with BSPS members as part of the Pension Freedoms Enquiry, I blog as the Pension Plowman at henrytapper.com.
AgeWage wishes to submit evidence because its founders, (myself, Ritesh Singhania and Dr Chris Sier) believe that transparency is the best disinfectant to clean up pensions tarnished reputation.
Contained in our response and the blogs that expand it is a blueprint to make pensions and pensions advice more transparent.
Our response to the enquiry is set out here. Longer responses are available via links to blogs at the end of each section or by searching henry.tapper.com
- Higher-cost providers don’t generally deliver higher performance, and usually eat into clients’ savings. So long as we have the right data and the means to analyse it, we can answer that question “fund by fund”, “product by product”. The aggregate of all the answers will eventually enable us to generalise. There is no short cut – the task is massive but it is one that is within the compass of data scientists and one that the pensions industry could and should undertake, more about our view here.
- The Government is doing a good job ensuring that workplace pension savers get value for money. The responsibility for making workplace pensions work, is all of ours. We should be relying on Government to create the framework, we should adopt best practice as a matter of course, more about why we think so here
- We see regulating providers as more important (for Government) than empowering consumers. We need better products, products first – empowerment second. – You Should not empower people to make good use of poor products. The regulation of pension products for auto-enrolment by both FCA and tPR has been a success – they’ve kept a proper market going, driven away the crooks and it looks like we’re moving towards a future where we can draw our pensions collectively. More of the same please! A fuller explanation here
- We see three ways to encouraged savers to engage with their savings either we can convince people to engage directly with their investment, or we can get people to engage with stewards or we can offer digital engagement. But we should be wary of ever expecting most people to pay much attention to their pension, most people just want to “know where to sign”. Find out more here
- Investment transparency is more important to savers than they know (or experts are prepared to admit). People cannot be expected to know the unknowns. The onus is on those expert in pensions to make pension investments clear and comparable. “Value for Money” is a way of thinking about what we have, which makes pensions easier to understand and manage. We explain this here.
- If customers are unhappy with their providers’ costs and investment performance/strategy, there barriers to them going elsewhere. Currently the system is set against people moving. It’s hard for people to know whether they are being penalised for moving, so in the absence of good information, they tend to stay where they are. This tends to reward the bad pension providers. More information here
- Independent Governance Committees could be a lot more effective in driving value for money. We’ve analyzed the performance of over 20 IGCs and the odd GAA over the last four years. We think they suffer from poor recruitment and that they do not get to their members to find the real issues. They’ve done good things in ensuring providers cap charges and can do more in ensuring data flows to dashboards. We explain more here
- Do pension customers get value for money from financial advisers who provide financial planning. Value for money from wealth managers is not so easy to find. We see plenty of product bias in the advice given by wealth managers and it looks like recidivism to a pre-RDR world. Those advisers who offer financial planning tend to have clearer charges which people understand. We explain the differences here.
We see a groundswell of support for Pension Transparency, evidenced in the work of the Transparency Task Force. We call on Government to recognise the Zeitgeist and support the work of Andy Agethangelou and his advisory committee.
We see Pension Dashboards as a way of bring transparency to ordinary people. We do not support the provision of a single dashboard but urge the committee to promote the conditions in which the private sector can give people access to their pensions and the information they need to manage them.
We call on the pensions industry to exert itself to help the 10m new pension savers who have arrived through auto-enrolment. Equally we call on Government to ensure that they have pension options when they mature, fit to retire on.
August 9th 2018