Two things caught my eye yesterday evening. The first was a comment made in parliament by Nigel Mills MP on protecting people from themselves and denying them access to digital consolidation via a dashboard.
The Government continue to debate whether Pension Dashboards should be allowed to help people bring their pensions together.
Mills says he doesn’t support new #PensionsDashboards having transaction capability, (such as people being able to use the tool to move pensions to a new provider) suggesting people might be tempted to do something unwise financially “after a few beers on the tube home”.
— Josephine Cumbo (@JosephineCumbo) November 16, 2020
In the time it has taken Government to dither about a dashboard, a group of entrepreneurs led by Romi Savova have set about helping hundreds of thousands of people to avoid people doing something unwise after a few beers…
The juxtaposition of Pensionbee’s “can do” approach with the miserable failure of Government to do anything at all – couldn’t be more marked.
For all the money it has poured into MAS and now MAPS, for all the money spent funding Nest and its think-tank Nest insight, the innovation that matters has come from a pension start up which ripped up the rule book and set about giving the public what they wanted.
Here’s how Pensionbee’s extraordinary success story was reported in yesterday’s Times.
Romi Savova, Pensionbee’s founder and chief executive and a former employee of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, said that she was seeking bank advisers for the float and hoped to make a firm appointment by Christmas. Strong performance recent months had accelerated her plans to turn Pensionbee into a public company, she said, adding: “We’re actively exploring a listing.”
Pensionbee enables customers to transfer and aggregate legacy pension pots on to a single, low-cost platform accessible from a smartphone. Customer numbers have risen by 15,000 to 115,000 in the past two months and assets under administration to £1.2 billion. Net operating losses at Pensionbee doubled in 2019 to £6.86 million.
A listing on the high-growth segment of the stock exchange could be seen as a coup, not least because it is available only to companies with an expected market value of £300 million or more. Ms Savova, 35, said: “I think we are in that ballpark, based on previous funding rounds.” Pensionbee has not disclosed a valuation from past capital-raisings.
Ms Savova is the company’s biggest shareholder and she and other colleagues own 60 per cent of the business. State Street Global Advisors, giant the investment manager, has a holding thought to be less than 10 per cent, while hundreds of angel investors hold the rest. Mark Wood, 67, former UK chief executive of Prudential, is the company’s chairman and also a shareholder.
The high-growth segment was launched in 2013, with the stock exchange hoping to attract fast-growing corporate stars of tomorrow by waiving normal free-float rules, but it has been a flop so far. Entrants have only 10 per cent of their shares freely floated, compared with 25 per cent for a conventional premium listing. It has just one constituent at present — Matomy, an Isreali advertising group, which has lost 95 per cent of its value.
Pensionbee says that there is an addressable market worth £500 billion of defined-contribution pension pots that people own from past jobs but are too scared or busy or daunted by to deal with.
Britain’s digital revolution has been driven by the entrepreneurial creativity of banks such as Starling and Monzo , creating an environment where our Fintech sector is valued the world over. Pensions have been slow to follow the lead set by the challenger banks. Only Pensionbee has challenged pensions to bridge the gap between those who pay for advice and those who rely on the “bloke down the pub”.
Action speaks louder than words.
For all its good intentions, Pension Wise is not the answer for busy people who just want to get pensions done. They are not afraid of moving money around using their hand-held devices, they bank where they want, when they want – using real time information made available through the technology that Pension Wise has no access to.
These people want a simple solution to their very real frustration about bringing their pots together and managing their pension affairs at their finger tips.
So today we can celebrate, not the rearguard action of the candy-crush king, but of the pension queen and queen-bee, Romi Savova. Well done to an organization that saw a problem and sorted it.