Opinion  

Pension freedom is not working

Jeff Prestridge

Jeff Prestridge

Forgive me if you are currently parked in an office somewhere in the UK poring over some banal missive from the FCA.

As I pen these words, I am sitting outside a cute little restaurant in the beautiful mountain town of Fornalutx in sweltering Majorca. Thirty degrees centigrade and it is eight o’clock in the evening.

For once, the obligatory work suit is nowhere in sight. Instead, I am wearing a pair of Persil white jeans accompanied by a natty Lyle & Scott shirt and, in homage to Elvis, a pair of rather trendy blue suede shoes. Yes, life is good, extremely good thank you. It is a wonderful world, as Elvis once sang.

Look up from the table and I can see the forbidding limestone mountains that form the stunning Serra de Tramuntana range, peering down angrily at me.

They make me feel inconsequential, especially the formidable Puig Major, Majorca’s highest mountain. Maybe I am. A mere dry roasted peanut in a magnificent universe, much of which remains undiscovered. Is there life on Mars? Is there a god atop Puig Major? Is Elvis still alive? Will we ever know?

Naturally, I am indulging myself. After all, work has been tough as of late, with deadlines galore to meet and a pension freedom guide to write (destined to be a bestseller).

Also, it is the first time I have ventured outside Blighty on my own for many a year. The Lake District is normally as far as I go, although given the state of the M6 I could travel to and back from Majorca and have a hearty lunch at the Café de Fornalutx in the time it takes to get to Ambleside.

A mountain of steamed mussels sits in front of me screaming to be devoured. In the wine cooler stands a half bottle of Olarra Anares Reserva (Mel checking) white rioja. Crisp. Nectar. Good enough to turn a man to drink. It is already half empty. The waiter’s eyebrows twitch with disapproval.

No doubt he will be leaving me details of the local AA group before I head back to the delights of the Petit Hotel Fornalutx, a former convent, for a nightcap in the ‘honesty’ bar.

The good life, eh? Yes. But do not think for one moment I have come away to this Balearic idyl in order to escape the personal finance world that you and I make a fine living from. As Elvis would have sung if he had been interested in money rather than sex and drugs, pensions are always on my mind.

Thanks to hotel wi-fi and my bed companion – an uncomplaining iPad – I have been spending my late evenings reading through the second of the government’s recent consultation documents on pensions. It is called ‘Pension transfers and early exit charges’, and it is a riveting read. Not quite Paula Hawkins and The Girl on the Train (an ex-financial journalist is our Paula), but it is a document all financial advisers should devour.