It’s not pensions that are scary – it’s “search”!

Every day, thousands of people worry where their pensions, how much they’re worth and what they can do to get their money back. Pensions are scary but they are not as scary as what you find when you search the web! The story Iona’s quoted on appeared on Yahoo Finance, but we don’t have to look far to find that Yahoo finance are promoting “advertorial” that isn’t much better.


Before you think that I’m knocking search, I should point out that this blog would be a pretty boring place without google and yahoo that allow me access to an understanding of what to do (as well as what not to do).


This of course is both the value and problem of search.

Who’s googling pensions?

I’ll lay a pound to a dollar (not much of a bet these days), that a high proportion of those googling “pensions” are finding their way to the kind of dubious propositions the FCA are so worrying about. That’s because those with the wrong intentions are very good at SEO (search engine optimisation). Googling final salary schemes does not take you to a website that tells you how final salary pensions schemes work, it takes you here

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Four ads designed to help you get out of final salary pensions.

And the people who are searching are almost certainly going to end up with the wrong kind of advice , charged at the wrong end of the spectrum in a contingent way.

This is where the problem starts and where the FCA should be focussing its efforts (if it wants to reduce the number of people transferring when it thinks they shouldn’t.

This is not cold calling

The traditional boiler-room scam, initiated by a cold-call is dead. It died before the cold-calling ban came into effect. Most bad advice originates from “search” not a cold-call.

If you go to the websites behind the ads, there is nothing actionable to be found. Lead generation for IFAs is perfectly legal.

Darren Reynolds generated a good proportion of his leads – not from chicken dinners – but from the Money Advice Service’s search an IFA facility which disastrously through up Active Wealth Management if you input your location as Port Talbot.

MAS were not actively promoting scamming – but they promoted scamming nonetheless and the FCA can no more prosecute Google or Yahoo than they can MAPS.

This is OUR responsibility

Some scammers may read these blogs, but for the most part they’re read by trustees, employers and other fiduciaries who feel they have either a duty of care or a regulatory responsibility to protect members.

Let me be straight with you.   YOU – ME – WE’RE FAILING

We should be taking personal culpability that people are googling Final salary pensions to get out of them, that they’re finding mini-bonds when looking for income.

We should not be leaving it to our staff/members/policyholders to find complex solutions to their financial futures using web-search, we should be making it perfectly clear what their next steps should be and they should not include finding a pig in a poke on the web.

The pensions map is like the Straits of Hormuz, people, like oil tankers , are forced into a tight situation when they come up to retirement, and like fully laden tankers- they are full of money and at their most vulnerable.

We should not be relying on more legislation to stop the scammers, we should be taking personal responsibility.

Over the course of this week , 23 of Britain’s largest employers and/or reps of their pension schemes visited WeWork More Place and discussed how to help people who fall into these categories.

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the things people want from their pension pots

We are about providing simple things for employers/providers/fiduciaries to do when you meet people with these wants.

Ruston Smith is helping people find good IFAS

AgeWage is helping people find good annuities

Quietroom is helping  people find the right words

We are all trying to help the majority of people who are totally lost and in danger of asking google or yahoo for “next steps”.

We are running two more of these events at the end of the month. If you have people who are asking for things from their pension pots, you can help them.

Simply sign up here


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The first 100 people to find this blog




About henry tapper

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