Pension Freedom  

Old Mutual's Greer on how pension freedoms changed advice


Pension freedoms has brought about a shift from face-to-face advice towards hybrid models, especially for the lower-earners, Jon Greer, head of retirement policy for Old Mutual Wealth, has stated.

Mr Greer said: "There is a knowledge gap. Our recent retirement income study found at least 45 per cent of people, when they come to take benefits, are not sure when and how to do it."

He said 47 per cent were also looking at their options but did not understand pension freedoms, and had not engaged with this.

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He said: "There is an engagement issue."

He told FTAdviser this was down to two things: "You can drive better engagement through market where you have good guidance. The market probably works well for those people who have high levels of savings, roughly £500,000 and generally they get advice.

"However those with pots under £10,000 or so, are not getting advice."

But Mr Greer said this did not necessarily indicate that the market was not functioning properly.

The second element, he said, was advisers having to think about new advice models, perhaps "away from face-to-face and towards hybrid models."

Mr Greer said there was a positive role for the workplace to play when it comes to encouraging people to build up pension pots, and especially those with advisers.

"The role of employers is pivotal in auto-enrolment", Mr Greer said. "They are generally in the position where their employees trust them to make the right decision over the schemes they have chosen, and part of that is driving the engagement and really trying to facilitate the financial advice.

"Once people have that first experience of financial advice, they really do value it."

However, he admitted there was a struggle to get self-employed people into the pension saving habit.

Mr Greer highlighted some work done by Old Mutual Wealth in 2017 with the Pension Policy Institute, which aimed to understand the habits of the 4.6 million self-employed people in Britain.

Called Policies for increasing long-term saving of the self-employed, published in October 2017, among its findings was the self–employed are less reliant on pensions, and only 28 per cent of them believe pensions are the safest way to save (compared with 52 per cent of employees).

Mr Greer said: "Why don't they engage with pensions they way employees do? What we found was the wealth was generally on a par, but they tend to prefer property to pensions, for example, and they also have an issue with managing volatility of income.

"This means they tend to go to savings products where they have access to the savings."

He pointed to the Nest trial of its 'side car,' which was a pot alongside the pension saving, a form of hybrid product for helping people, and highlighted the importance of using apps and online platforms to engage people more, and to help give people more power and control over their pension savings.