Your IndustryJun 19 2018

Anti-pension scam plans vie for £10k prize

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Anti-pension scam plans vie for £10k prize

Pension scams and helpline calls have been identified as key areas in which vulnerable consumers need more support, as industry initiative Innovating for Ageing opens for entries.

Created by independent think tank the International Longevity Centre UK (ILC-UK) and provider Just, the initiative seeks to find solutions for vulnerable consumers in later life.

After receiving more than 80 submissions from businesses, the public sector, charities and individuals, a shortlist of 20 problems was created, which is now waiting for creative solutions from start-ups and innovators.

A total of £10,000 worth of prizes is up for grabs by those successfully pitching, including professionally made promotional videos, branding consultation and specialist development support.

Solutions can be submitted until 12 August with an awards ceremony in the Autumn where winners will present their ideas.

David Sinclair, director of ILC-UK said: “Organisations as diverse as BT, NS&I and Leeds City Council face a range of challenges but share a common need to engage with and help support their vulnerable customers in later life.

“By bringing together such an assortment of companies and industries, and putting them in front of some of the smartest tech and business minds in the country we hope to find a different way of approaching and tackling vulnerability.”

ILC-UK said 50 per cent of UK adults, or about 25.6 million people, display one or more characteristics of potential vulnerability, rising with age.

The shortlisted problems were grouped into six categories to reflect common issues suffered by vulnerable consumers, including end of life planning; identifying vulnerability; digital exclusion; isolation and loneliness; money matters; and a final surprise catch-all category.

Shortlisted problems include how to reduce pension scams, submitted by The Pensions Advisory Service after £200m was stolen from pension savers by investment fraudsters in the 12 months to February 2018.

They also include how to identify and best serve vulnerable customers who ring call centres, submitted by BT. 

BT said one customer had called its customer helpline more than 700 times in four months, resulting in £24,000 worth of unnecessary engineering call-outs.

Advice firm LEBC submitted an entry around financial capability, while the Personal Finance Society campaigned for improving access to care funding advice.

Stephen Lowe, group communications director at Just, said: “The range of issues put forward highlights how keen organisations are to work with others to find better ways to help people as they move through later life.

“Now that we have highlighted some of the key problems in this shortlist, we encourage innovative and creative thinkers to help find technological and policy solutions.”

Dave Penny, managing director at Invest Southwest, said the problem with vulnerability is that it comes on a scale of varying degrees, while judging it is highly subjective.  

Invest Southwest has a detailed policy for dealing with vulnerable clients but despite this the problems remain, he said.

Mr Penny said: "The risks to vulnerable clients are great and the risks in advising clients who may at a later date be perceived to have been vulnerable are self-evident. 

"But I have caused offence to more than one client suggesting additional levels of care would be advisable.  

"Who takes responsibility on the client’s side for the decisions taken? In the absence of attorneys how does the adviser satisfy themselves that an adequate third party has been identified to protect the interests of the client? 

"It is a minefield. So all the help that can be offered by pooling expertise and brainstorming innovations would be very welcome."