Part of living in a democracy is that if individuals are given appropriate information, refuse to take advice, and then cause detriment to their personal situation by taking too much out of their funds, sobeit. It is quite another thing for us to allow insurance companies to continue to cripple pensioners’ ability to make good choices by obfuscating sensible defaults (shopping around) with misleading information (“guaranteed annuity” – sign here...) this, in my opinion, still happens too frequently.
The first few weeks of Pension Wise may or may not be successful, I have no doubt the trade media will seize upon examples of Pension Wise doing it “wrong” and I expect the helpline to be overwhelmed, predominantly with mystery shoppers and the like.
Retail media, as opposed to the trade press, seems confused, often describing Pension Wise as offering “advice”.
Pension Wise will add little value to our business – the individuals that we typically attract would tend to favour personal, paid for, independent advice anyway – but from an ethical viewpoint I would sincerely like it to succeed.
To do this, the best message Pension Wise can deliver is this: “We can explain a raft of options, but understand that the world is very complex, your choices are unlikely to be reversible, go and get impartial, face-to-face advice from a qualified professional.”
This, originally, was Osborne’s dream. The only thing is, it won’t be free.