Firing line  

Tapper: To protect clients from scams you have to be proactive

Tapper: To protect clients from scams you have to be proactive

Pensions leader Henry Tapper describes one of his main passions as “people working together in common endeavour”.

For the founder of start-up Age Wage and industry blog the Pension Plowman this common endeavour is to help people save for later life so they can look forward to a “secure, happy retirement”.

He says there is an increasing need for such help at “a time of growing uncertainty and mystification around pensions”.

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Challenges to this “common endeavour” are rife at the moment, and especially manifest by way of scammers.

Covid-19 is providing a hotbed of opportunity for those with malicious intent to exploit the financial difficulties many people are going through.

Scammers soothe related anxieties by offering false methods to cash in pensions or get a too-good-to-be-true transfer deal. Many of those targeted by scammers are older people, and are often very vulnerable, but not always.

Family tradition

Feeling protective of people in later life is perhaps something handed down by his parents.

Mr Tapper’s mother was a nurse and his late father was a geriatric GP turned politician and care home owner, and he holds his parents partly responsible for his interest in later-life security.

He became engaged with the subject of pensions in his 20s. He developed an early fascination for how people went about organising their finances for retirement and became professionally involved in insurance companies.

Lately he has been working with actuaries trying to predict how long we are going to live and how long our money is going to last. These are “tough questions that fascinate me”, he says.

He says his parents have always been his inspiration, and sees his work as being closely connected to their former mission of caring for people who were ageing, many of whom are vulnerable.

Emotional cost of a scam 

Mr Tapper is passionate about protecting people from being taken advantage of and identifies clearly the emotional as well as financial cost of falling for a scam.

He says: “You will often find people who have been scammed are extremely fond of the people they have been duped by and they find it extremely hard to reject that person. They’ve invested emotional capital in that person, so they have great difficulty disinvesting that emotional capital.”

Mr Tapper knows this experience first-hand. Only this May he felt hope and optimism when Age Wage was approached by a large hedge fund offering pro-bono work and offering a great deal of money for the business.

After a lot of investigation he discovered the organisation had less than worthy intentions.

“So we didn’t actually fall for it, but we wasted a lot of time on it, and it is very easy, especially at this time, to be beguiled by what seemed to be a very altruistic approach.”