Blue-sky thinking

Many providers of retirement products went back to the drawing board following the announcement of the new pension freedoms in the 2014 Budget.

For Mr Jonathan Willcocks, managing director, global head of retail sales at M&G Investments, the ideal product in the new at retirement environment had already been launched by the firm four years prior to the unveiling of the reforms by George Osborne.

The £322.5m – as at 28 February 2015 – M&G Income Multi-Asset Fund was launched in November, 2010 with the aim of delivering a high and rising income, as well as offering the potential for capital growth over the longer term.

Article continues after advert

Mr Willcocks said: “We sat down once the Budget announcement was made and said, ‘okay, what do we need to do?’ but realised we already had the solution, and built it in 2010.

“The M&G Income Multi Asset Fund was launched in 2010 not because of the pension freedoms – that was not even on the cards then – but because we recognised that people will want to have this solution going forward.

“I believe income multi-asset funds can play a very good core part of anybody’s solution.”

A school of thought has predicted an uncertain future for annuities thanks to the new pension reforms which allow pensioners to cash in their pension pot for the first time.

However, there will still be a market for the financial product in the future, according to Mr Willcocks, adding: “You may not want to buy an annuity on day one, but it does not mean that you will not want to buy one at all.

“The pension freedoms do mean that consumers are presented with choices they did not have before – which has to be a good thing.

“For the intermediary market it is fantastic news because in the old days if the client bought an annuity, that’s it – they would not need to have further contact with that individual. In this new world, intermediaries are able to manage their client’s journey through retirement.”

Finance was not necessarily Mr Willcocks’s preferred career path

Inspired by his father, who worked in the Royal Air Force and mother, who worked as a paramedic, Mr Willcocks originally embarked on a career as a medical officer in the RAF.

However, failing the colour blind test proved to be an insurmountable obstacle, dashing his hopes of a career in the armed forces.

He quickly turned his attention to finance, and entered the industry in 1986 at Hambros Bank in the investment management division.

“I became hooked very quickly on the concept of financial markets and the vibrancy of the City. You realise that you can play an important part in society,” he said.

The industry has changed from the bull market Mr Willcocks walked into during the 1980s. It has become more regulated, professional – from a qualifications perspective – and increasingly transparent, according to Mr Willcocks.