Pensions I love you but you're bringing me down

All of my colleagues would imagine that I am keen as mustard about pensions. Strangely excited about the details and enamoured about its quirks. That is true I enjoy the complexities. Since I have been involved with the techie side (11 years now) there has been a steady stream of flux and change. My career change from a lowly administrator to a technical analyst at Mercers was on the back of the simplification changes that brought in a great deal of the current complexities. However, three things happening now are pushing my patience to the limit, so much so I am considering jacking it all in and becoming a sheep farmer.

Freedom and choice. The revolution that changed pensions more than anything suddenly made them look pretty good for millions. Rubbish annuities were out, income when I want it is in. That’s great isn’t it the people thought. Yes.. yes.. but what happens when you run out? Ummm… I don’t know. Tell me about this annuity concept again…? Conversations are happening, people are thinking and this is a good thing. Add to this the preposterous situation of the secondary annuity market which will create more dissatisfaction with pension. It will be complicated, people will not get what they want and they will be disappointed. Pensions reputation is damaged..again. 

Tax relief; the pensions industry is being side-stepped by the Chancellor.. He says on one hand he can sweep away everything we know (and used to love) for pension ISAs. Noo! Don’t do that we scream. So instead he lets us off with a light beating of flat-rate tax-relief. This is a sop and still not what we want and those that argue for it have been hoodwinked into saying thank you for not being too wicked. Basic rate tax relief may not be the incentive it could be so we’ll change the whole thing, it’s crazy. Why not communicate with people rather than change everything..again! I am deliberately ignoring the economic arguments (which are flawed in any case) because I believe pensions are bigger and more important than short term gains. 

WASPI – the campaign for state pension equality for women had a laudable start, I signed the petition when it was around the 30,000 mark I believe. However, the constant abuse of the Pensions Minister and anyone who holds an opposite view has devalued their position, with me, massively. They may have a point that the timetable was accelerated too quickly. They may have a point that the Government communicated poorly. I think this is the main issue. Communication is at the heart of what can make pensions great again. 

Ask people who try and understand pensions for a day job (people like me) what they think about pensions. We think they’re great for almost everyone and the exception to pensions being great are not the norm. People should talk about their pension, talk about the their retirement with everyone. It should be the Government’s job to be a cheerleader for pensions, in the way they have for auto-enrolment, but to not stop. 

So stop changing my pensions world otherwise very shortly I will have had enough and be on a hillside dealing with sheep issues (you can see am expert already). But when people like me start getting sick and tired of pensions, who knows what the general public think?

David Brooks

Technical Director

David Brooks

Talk to David:

david.brooks@broadstone.co.uk
020 7893 2262