Tpas sees 140% increase in contacts since pension freedoms

Tpas sees 140% increase in contacts since pension freedoms

The Pension Advisory Service (Tpas) has been contacted by 186,509 people in the past year for help with their pensions, about 7 per cent more than in the previous year when it was contacted by 175,000 people.

In its annual review for the year 2017/18, the service said consumer enquiries increased 140 per cent since the pension freedoms were introduced in 2015.

Of these contacts 20 per cent represented Pension Wise appointments, and 80 per cent were contacts to Tpas' core service using its helpline, webchat and enquiries. During the year Tpas' website received 3.2 million website visits.

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Tpas said customers engaged with the service primarily as a result of a particular trigger in their lives or from news headlines.

Of the total number of people who contacted the body, about 19 per cent used the service to enquire about taking benefits from their pension, 14 per cent asked about paying contributions, 10 per cent sought a quote and 8 per cent were seeking advice on a transfer.

On the Tpas helpline, 38 per cent of people were asking for guidance on taking benefits from their pensions, 9 per cent wanted guidance on paying contributions, 8 per cent wanted advice on transfers and 7 per cent were seeking information on obtaining quotes.

Ann Harris, OBE, chairwoman of Tpas, said the service has been looking at bringing in technology to enhance its service, such as chatbots for top subjects and assessing how voice analytics can be used to speed up its processes.

She said: "One initiative is to introduce chat bots for top questions. This will also provide customers with the benefit of making our service available 24/7.

"Another pinch point is carrying out the quality assessment of our work. We are running a project to see how voice analytics can improve and speed up our quality assurance work.

"This brings additional benefits such as automatically coding the subject matter of calls, helping us collect valuable customer insight."

Tpas is due to be merged with the Money Advice Service and Pension Wise in the autumn, to form an industry-funded impartial single financial guidance body.

Since April 2017, Tpas has also taken part in 27 outreach events including roadshows, charity information sessions, community groups and customer outreach events.

Over the past year it has been looking particularly at the ways it can work with employers who are experiencing changes to their pension schemes such as Tesco, British Steel, Carillion and British motor companies.

Earlier this year the body piloted a mid-life MOT service with providers L&G and Aviva.

Aviva said it will be in a position to consider rolling out its MOT to workplace pensions customers by next year, while L&G will be looking to offer the product as early as next year following a second pilot due to begin at the end of this year.

A joint report on the findings of each scheme is also set to be published on 24 September 2018 and will be discussed with the pensions minister.

Kay Ingram, director of public policy at LEBC, said Tpas should look to maintain the human element alongside technology.