Pension Wise: a slow motion car crash?

Damian Fantato

Damian Fantato

This weekend, like many before, I plan to saunter, full of hope, to the Kassam Stadium to watch Oxford United take on their latest opponents.

However not everything is well among the dreaming spires – Oxford have been underperforming of late and find themselves unable to escape the lower reaches of League Two’s mid-table.

You see, the new manager, Michael Appleton, has been encouraging Oxford’s players to keep the ball on the ground and play football like God intended.

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Unfortunately, like with all transitions, it isn’t going too well to begin with and there have been far too many misplaced passes for my liking.

But still I’ll go and keep faith that we’re going to become the next Swansea City. Does this make me optimistic or foolhardy?

You could ask a similar question about those who are responsible for implementing the hotly-anticipated pension reforms.

Like Appleton they are introducing a much-welcomed but radical new system and are expected to start performing in short order.

However it is looking increasingly likely there will be one or two misplaced passes.

For a start there are 60-odd days to go until the reforms kick in (I was going to go with kick off but felt the football analogy was being stretched) and details of the Pension Wise guidance are still unclear.

The FCA appears uncertain what exactly it will consist of and has been handed a raw deal by HM Treasury in having to implement this system so quickly.

Meanwhile very few pension providers have made clear exactly what they will be offering – if anything – on 7 April.

It was unfair on the FCA, advisers and providers – particularly those specialising in the annuities we’ve never really been forced to buy – for George Osborne to insist on such a prompt implementation of a major shake-up of the pension system.

Surely the only reason for wanting to do so was to prevent a possible future Labour government from taking any credit.

But still ministers valiantly insist everything will go well. Is this optimistic or foolhardy?

For my part I see the future every Saturday at 3pm – transitions never go completely smoothly and lots of things can and will go wrong.

Perhaps if our lawmakers admitted as much they might be able to prepare for the worst.