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Tpas cuts direct contact costs

Tpas cuts direct contact costs

The Pensions Advisory Service has managed to reduce the average cost per direct contact with savers by almost 20 per cent.

In Tpas’ annual report, published today (18 September), the telephone-based Pension Wise service provider, revealed that in 2010 to 2011, the average cost per direct contact was £40.93 and this was reduced to £33.58 in 2014 to 2015, an 18 per cent saving.

Tpas stated these figures were only for direct contact and not the more than 1.1m customers who get information and use tools on Tpas’ website, “reducing the cost to serve even further”.

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The service received 12,768 emails and referral enquiries in 2014 to 2015, up 6 per cent from 12,018 the previous year, 4,889 written complaints and disputes, up 13 per cent from 4,320 in 2013 to 2014, and a 28 per cent surge in helpline calls received to 96,497 up from 75,4801 the year before.

The number of helpline calls handled hit 71,394 in 2014 to 2015, up 26 per cent from 56,7083 in 2013 to 2014, web chats saw a 151 per cent surge to 13,915, compared with 5,5352 in 2013 to 2014, while website visits were down by 14 per cent.

Although the new choices outlined in HM Treasury’s freedom and choice white paper did not take effect until April 2015, throughout the 12 months leading up to April 2015, Tpas experienced significant numbers of enquiries and calls about upcoming changes and pensions in general.

The biggest increase in questions was during March 2015.

Savers were keen to know more and understand the new options available to them, Tpas reported, and as the effective date approached, people also wanted to find out about the tax implications regarding their choices.

Michelle Cracknell, chief executive of The Pensions Advisory Service, said: “Much of the interest was about the increased flexibility and the ability to take more of the fund as cash.

“There was some confusion about the new options; particularly around whether all schemes would be obliged to offer the new choices, when they would start and the types of schemes that would be able to do so.

“We also received numerous calls from people in defined benefit schemes or already in receipt ofpensions, who wanted to know if the freedoms applied to them.”

Most calls to the helpline were triggered by a life event leading to thoughts about their pension savings, Tpas reported.

Around 15 per cent of the calls and web chat were about retirement planning, with many of them asking about the new choices for taking benefits introduced in April 2015.

Customers also wanted to know more about pension products.

Earlier this week, it was announced that responsibility for Pension Wise was switching from the Treasury to the Department for Work and Pensions.

emma.hughes@ft.com