Pension savers being bamboozled again.

This blog is about the two page pension statement being curated to the pensions industry by Ruston Smith with the help of Quietroom. It is a simple document designed to be read, it is also designed to provide people with information about what is going on in an engaging way,

It’s been a couple of years in the making –

First here’s the statement that was knocking around this time last year (courtesy Quietroom)


and here’s the 2018 version as it was presented to the PLSA by Guy Opperman today. statement 5

I’ve been waiting a long time to praise Ruston Smith and the guys at Quietroom for this, I agree with Guy Opperman that we have a long time left dealing with paper statements.

But I am disappointed that the statement I see today has been neutered.

I’m glad I’m not in Liverpool as I’d probably lose my temper, storm the stage and demand to know what the f*C&!’s going on.

Because until recently, the version of this illustration had a line in it which told me what I would have had in my pot – if I hadn’t had a load of deductions from the butcher, the baker and the candle-stick maker. On that £38k pot, I reckon I’d have lost on a workplace pension about £300, but if that pot’s a dodgy SIPP or some skanky “legacy pot” that figure could be £1000 and that’s just for last year.

So what’s going on?

Have the FCA colluded with the ABI and forced the castration of this once noble document?

I had the privilege of seeing a previous version of this document and the one I saw still had the charges  box in it. I can remember that because Ignition House showed us a bunch of vox-pop video clips where just about every member of the public interviewed pointed to the box that told them what they were charged and – wait for it – engaged!

There was the whiff of cordite in the air -even then. Whispers were circulating that the charges box might be under threat. I asked why – when it was the one thing that everyone engaged with.

Wrong kind of engagement

The official answer is that not all pension providers have built systems to tell us how much we’re paying for our pensions in pounds , shillings and pence. This is absurd, a percentage of the fund determined by the ongoing charges figure sees to the number.

I suspect the other answer given to the FCA was equally specious, that’s the old chestnut that telling people the truth will put them off saving. Telling people the truth is exactly what the FCA should be getting people to do, and if the truth harms saving, then so be it.

It seems that engaging with pensions has to be the way prescribed by the ABI and the FCA, in other words, positively- which in ABI terms means throwing a shed-load more money their member’s way. Awkward questions like – “how much is this thing costing me” -obviously do not count.

Which is tantamount to saying that the ABI and the FCA have turned what was an illustration into a sales-aid (as if we didn’t have enough of them anyway).

Did anybody ask question of the minister?

“why doesn’t the statement show the costs and charges paid last year?

and I’d like it asked of Guy Opperman if he touts this statement as the great hope for pension engagement.

Otherwise all ok

I know how much work has gone into the two-pager, I salute Ruston Smith for owning it and getting it over the line. I salute Quietroom too.

This was (and but for the omission – is) a bloody good thing.

It is not their fault that the bloody thing is as limp as a lettuce.

Give this little document some financial Viagra – give it back it’s mojo. The only thing people want to know is what their pension’s worth, how it’s grown and what it’s cost them.

It seems that we’re happy to sing happy songs but consider the rest of the deal too hard.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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1 Response to Pension savers being bamboozled again.

  1. Mark Meldon says:

    Henry, its not long ’till 5 November!

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