Navigating pension’s Straits of Hormuz

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The contested space between the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman

We met last night in a crowded room in Moorgate WeWork. We were an eclectic mix of pensions directors, chairs of trustees , annuity experts Retirement Line,  Ruston Smith, Vincent Franklin and me.

You can see the slides here

Unfortunately slideshare won’t show the embedded video from Quietroom which you can watch below. I know lots of us have seen the horse in the orchard before but it’s worth reminding ourselves how simple the choice architecture can be made.

The premise of the evening was that moving from the controlled world of workplace pensions to what comes in retirement is the financial equivalent of passing through the Straits of Hormuz

Check out the map at the top of the blog and see where you think the pensions equivalent of the Straits of Hormuz are on the Quietroom/DGP map of the pension world.

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The contested space between the workplace and retirement


Vincent Franklin’s analogy brought to mind brigands from Somalia and state sponsored raids from Iraq. It is easy to draw parallels to the ravages on people’s pension pots from scammers and the Treasury

Perhaps the most important point of the evening was made by Boots’ Julie Richards who pointed out that while the £20,000 saved by one of her staff might not sound much to pensions professionals, it was possibly the most significant savings achievement to that person.

Denying that person the right to that money on their terms was an insult to that achievement. But not helping them understand the perils of being scammed by brigands or losing out to the taxman, a failure in personnel management.

Treating all pension pots as equally important

Julie’s comment set the tone for the evening. Whether you have £20,000 or £2m in your pension pot, that money is important to you and deserves the same attention from pensions professionals. We cannot go on supporting the wealthy and ignoring the savings of those with smaller pots.

The meeting focussed on the needs of four groups of savers whose plans could be characterised by one of these statements

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For those people who wanted access to an IFA, help was at hand as Ruston Smith talked us through an important initiative he is pioneering at Tesco where IFAs he introduces to his staff will be required to abide by a code of conduct and be subject to due diligence by a significant third party. You can see Ruston’s ideas embedded in the presentation above.

For those who want to wait and see, we discussed the support that can be offered from MAPS and particularly Pensions Wise but also from the pensions departments of the leading companies around the table.

For those wishing to do their own drawdown, we discussed the investment pathways due to be implemented next spring as part of the FCA’s Retirement Outcome Review

While for those people wishing to buy an annuity, a range of options were outlined by Retirement Line, including the deferral of decisions using Fixed Annuities.

The point was that this was not about wealth at work, it was about everyone.

We’re all in the same boat

I came away from the presentation inspired by the enthusiasm of organisations as divers as Tescos, Royal Mail, ITV, Boots and BT. All professed to having different ways of helping their staff through the perils faced as they chose retirement options but all were in the same boat.

We can surely do more to help our staff, whether we are mega -employers like these – or we run one of the million SMEs (like Quietroom , Retirement Line and AgeWage) that have staged auto-enrolment.

The role of the employer in outlining the options available to staff in a clear and concise way is what employers can do. They may not feel up to doing the guidance themselves but they need to know the resource that is to hand.

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You can come to future workshops

If you have staff who are coming up to retirement and you’d like to find out how you can help them navigate the pension straits of Hormuz then there are still spaces available on 28th and 29th August. There’s one space for tonight (Wednesday 14th August).

You can sign up to one of these days using this invite

Invite to AgeWage summer workshops

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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