The number of queries received by The Pensions Advisory Service (Tpas) grew by almost a quarter last year, in the run up to it becoming part of the new single guidance body.
In April 2019, the single financial guidance body, made up of the merger of Pension Wise, the Money Advice Service and The Pensions Advisory Service, officially launched under the name Money and Pensions Advice Service (Maps).
This is a joined-up service for everything guidance, from debt help to money and pensions guidance.
In December 2018 the last of Tpas’ main functions were passed over to Maps, therefore its latest annual report and accounts for the year ending March 31, published on July 11, only covered the final nine months of Tpas’ existence until December 31, 2018.
The report showed the total number of queries from individuals from April 1 to December 31, 2018 was 156,617, up 23 per cent from the 127,098 received in the same 9-month period in the previous year.
The amount of queries responded to by Tpas in the last nine months totalled 135,732, up 4 per cent from the 130,037 in 2017.
The majority of the queries (58 per cent) were via the telephone, followed by web chat (20 per cent) and transfers via Pension Wise (14 per cent).
Customer satisfaction remained high at 96 per cent, unchanged from the previous year, with 4.9 per cent of calls abandoned by the individual before Tpas was able to answer them. This was down from 6.6 per cent in 2017.
The annual report also showed that on December 31, £861,757 in cash was transferred to the single financial guidance body with Tpas’ bank accounts being closed by Maps in April 2019.
David Everett, partner at Lane Clark & Peacock, said: "The existence of this free-to-use service has been a lifeline for many individuals over the years and it has always been held in high regard.
"We trust that the good work will continue, whether it is under the aegis of Maps or through those now working at the Pensions Ombudsman’s office."
Meanwhile industry representatives have called for the new Maps service to be hands on and to educate individuals on their pensions at key stages in their life.
At an event in London last month (June 20), Maps asked various stakeholders across the industry for their opinions on how the service can improve the guidance it gives to individuals and how it can encourage people to engage with their savings.
A common theme among the audience was that the body needed to communicate with individuals about their pension savings across key stages of their life, for example, when entering work for the first time or reaching retirement age.
Another suggestion was for Maps to provide targeted pensions guidance for people aged 50, although some thought a better suited age for this would be 55.
Tailored guidance for people in this age bracket could help people focus on how to manage their pension pots in the best way, some respondents stated.
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