How was your national pensions tracing day on Sunday? It’s the day when financial services people like articles about the pension pots their customers have lost.
In the 24 hours granted you, did you find any pensions or were you frustrated by the lack of anything remotely like a pensions dashboard?
There are many people who can help you trace your pensions and pension pot and most will do so for free. The reason is that they hope to influence the destination of your money, their way.
Where there is an ulterior motive, it is sensible for a pension tracer to declare it. If you want them to trace as an independent service then you will 1. have to inform the tracing agent that you do not intend to use their investment service and 2. you will pay them a reasonable fee for the work.
People are right to be suspicious of “free” services, like lunches they are not free, unless you benefit from a public service paid for out of general taxation.
The following tale appeared yesterday on Linked in and has an authenticity about it that I can verify, the author is straight up. It talks to the depth of distrust that exists for financial services, partly because of the vulnerability of customers – especially to pension scams.
I will never forget a phone call I had when I was working in a call centre.
The DWP had written out to a policy holder to advise that they may have a policy with XYZ company and they should contact XYZ to check.
The policy holder contacted XYZ company, and yours truly was the customer service advisor who answered the call.
Based on the reference number and the name the policy holder gave me, I knew there was a policy in his name.
However, the policy holder refused to provide any more personal details as he thought it was a scam.
He had never heard of XYZ company, and why would he? The amount of mergers and acquisitions that occur in the industry is it any wonder policy holders/members struggle to keep on top of who administers there pension/policy.
As I couldn’t provide the policy holder with any additional details to prove to him that it wasn’t a scam, until he passed the data security checks, we were at a stalemate.
This isn’t a story about how great I was and how I managed to use my interpersonal skills to persuade the policy holder to provide me with the necessary personal details.
Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t convince the policy holder to provide me with his personal details for me to then give him details of his policy.
All I could do is provide the policy holder with alternative means for him to verify XYZ company is a legit company, and they were not trying to scam him.
I vividly recall the policy was worth around 27k.
No idea whether the policy holder ever did this or not – I hope that he did.
Of the thousands of calls I answered whilst performing this role, there is maybe only half a dozen calls I remember this well.
We do not know our customers very well
That £27,000 is less than the tiniest fraction of the £28bn of pension saving the PPI estimate is disconnected from its owners. But it might be the difference to its owner between financial poverty and some well-being.
The craziness is that the £27,000 was invested from a bank account or from a payroll, with the full knowledge of the payee and the acknowledgement of XYZ company. It would have been accompanied by the beneficial owner’s personal details and entrusted to the safekeeping either of trustees or of a bare trust operating a personal pension.
There may have been advisers involved, the payment would have been made under the oversight of a regulator and with the protection of FSCS , FOS the Pension Ombudsman and HMRC. Despite all this, the customer did not know the person answering the call could be trusted.
I am pleased that Jordan only received a handful of calls like this. I hope that his customer found his or her money eventually and that it is now making him or her a little happier,
But the story should make us stop and think. Most people distrust us, some hate us and we are doing very little to help them trace their pensions. The dashboard looks about as likely as HS2 and will probably drop us off somewhere short of our final destination.
We have national pension tracing days because we have lost touch with the people whose money we were supposed to guard. Now we want to help people get back in touch so they can bring more money to us. What a strange state of affairs!
Sadly, I expect we have many national pension tracing days to come.