News Analysis: Intent on occupying the middle ground
In less than a month, we will have a new government.
Whether it assumes much of the form of the existing version or is a new one altogether is unclear.
We've had a chance to hear the parties' manifesto promises, but whether any of those promises will or can be kept is another matter. The winners may find they have more pressing claims on their time, for whoever comes to power will have as their first priority the need to address the substantial hole in the economy.
Differentiating what the political parties have to offer seems to have become much more difficult. Ideologically, the parties all seem intent on occupying the same middle ground. Yet some of the issues politicians will have to grapple with are so important they warrant taking the politics out.
Certainly, the issues the Tax Incentivised Savings Association (Tisa) addresses - the ageing population, inadequate pension funding, the fall in the savings ratio, the general lack of understanding about personal finance, the mistrust of the effectiveness of financial regulation and the standards of product and service providers - are not items that can be dealt with overnight. Half the problem is that they will take much more than a single term of office to solve.
We are pragmatists at Tisa. We acknowledge the importance of working well with all political parties, whichever one is elected. But what we don't want to do is end up in the worst of all worlds, where consumers become more confused because more change is introduced merely to serve political rather than social ends.
We talk to politicians of all persuasions on a regular basis, not just around election time. And because we represent a broad sweep of industry players and don't get on our high horse defending a particular interest group, but simply tell it the way it is from a customer's perspective, they do listen – not all the time, though, I admit.
We try to boil the subjects down to first principles. One is that financial needs don't diminish in retirement and that the existing state pension is insufficient to prevent many pensioners sliding into poverty.
Another is that, as people live longer, funding the current state retirement age is unsustainable. For many, the appropriateness of saving through a pension remains unproven. Many are being put off the idea lest it diminish their access to subsequent benefits, while others have been deterred by constant change.
Another first principle is that many people dislike the idea of locking money into a pension and being unable to access their savings, saddled with compulsory annuitisation when rates may be in decline and unable to pass on their savings to future generations.