Opinion  

Beam me up Tisa: Savings, the final frontier

Emma Ann Hughes

Emma Ann Hughes

Yesterday (13 November) I had a moan about the Tisa conference because I was sat listening to yet more statistics about how we are all going to live longer and are failing to save enough.

I pointed out this is because people live in the moment and enjoy showing off their latest iPhone, rather than thinking about shivering on the long walk to Aldi in an impoverished old age.

However, after the stat attack earlier in the day credit to Tisa’s last speaker of the day yesterday evening, Greg Davies, managing director and head of behavioural investment policy at Barclays, who showed he understands what drives consumers.

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He pointed out we live perennially in the present. Almost all saving feels to people like too much of a sacrifice now and is a painful thing to do. Because the outcomes are a long time in the future it is low on the list of priorities for now.

To make them think of the future, he says you have to give them a picture of it and be their “Captain Kirk”, telling them in what direction they need to be heading.

Mr Davies found passive nudges from warning letters or Twitter recommendations, coupled with more pronounced ‘shoves’ from compulsory saving, cause some action.

Critically, however, Mr Davies admitted it is only the offer of engaged choice - in my mind, impartial financial advice - that will make people confident enough to immediately press the big red button to actually act in the right way.

They want to face the final frontier with a captain leading them and be reassured that they are not the poor unknown ensign wearing the red jumper on the away mission.

What engages people who need to save more for the future is the promise that you will make them understand the overall picture.

So perhaps you do have to paint a picture of the world of the future, but unlike the Starship Enterprise you need to make sure they do not feel they are going into unchartered territory.

emma.hughes@ft.com