Industry weighs up savings tsar proposal

Industry weighs up savings tsar proposal

Industry figures have given mixed reactions to a call for the government to appoint a savings champion.

Tony Stenning, head of UK retail for BlackRock and chairman of Tisa’s savings and investments policy project, said financial education was improving, but people were still borrowing rather than saving for major purchases.

He said British workers put less than 10 per cent of their wages into savings between April and June 2015, representing a lower proportion than that saved by their counterparts in most European countries.

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Mr Stenning said: “A new savings minister would transcend departments and be a positive driver for change to create a framework where it is as easy to save as it is to get into debt.”

Personal Finance Society chief executive Keith Richards said: “Dedicated ministerial focus is certainly one way to bring the right level of importance, attention and action to such a crucial area of public interest and should include the creation of a cross-industry savings and investment committee.”

Others were less positive. Andrew Tully, pensions technical director for Retirement Advantage, said: “There are plenty of politicians involved in pensions and savings, and I am not sure one more will make any significant difference.”

Mike Morrison, head of platform technical for AJ Bell, argued that long-term policy was more important than a savings advocate.

He said the government should look at its future goals on savings, adding: “Let us go forward in a time machine 20, 30 or 40 years, look at what we need and work backwards from there.”

Meanwhile Centre of Policy Studies research fellow Michael Johnson questioned the motives behind the idea, saying: “I am wary of the industry-sponsored suggestions for a savings commissioner. This is a lobbying exercise: it has its own agenda, which is self-preservation.”

Tony Stenning’s main points
Positive changes have been made, including the pension reforms and Isa changes
Financial education is improving but is still poorly coordinated
People still tend to borrow rather than save for big purchases
People also rely too heavily on cash because of a lack of confidence in investing

Adviser view

Roger Weeks, financial adviser for Cornwall-based Jacksons Wealth Management, said: “Appointing a savings minister would be something worthwhile doing, but the difficulty is getting this savings message to the people who need it.”