The government are currently making a massive push to ensure that individuals age 50 or over understand the options available to them with Defined Contribution (DC) pensions which may either be a personal one, workplace one or both.

To do this the government are promoting the services of Pension Wise which is a free and impartial service set up by government in 2015 which offers guidance for people regarding their options at retirement. Demand for the Pension Wise service has grown every year since its launch in 2015. In 2019/20, the Money and Pensions Service delivered over 200,000 Pension Wise interactions, including telephone appointments, face to face appointments and online sessions, more than triple the number delivered in the service’s first year.

All in all, I truly believe that access to Pension Wise should be seen as a positive and the fact that the government are promoting this service should be commended however…once a Pension Wise appointment has been attended, what happens next.

As part of the appointment with Pension Wise, they will present options to the individual which will guide them down a particular path leading to one of several outcomes which could include but is not limited to:

  • Full Encashment
  • Annuity Purchase
  • Flexi Access Drawdown

Once the end of this path is reached the adviser at Pension Wise (who cannot give advice on the most appropriate option) will recommend that the individual visits a website called unbiased.com and seek advice from a qualified financial adviser who can then put into place a plan which meets the needs of the individual. As the qualified financial adviser will need to carry out their own fact find on the individual to provide advice, would the individual have been better off going to the financial adviser in the first place? I am not saying that there is no value to the Pension Wise service, it certainly has its place and a general information service certainly saves time than carrying out your own research but…

If my car broke down or had a problem, I would take it to a dealer or local garage to understand what is wrong with it and find out what needs to be done to fix it. Of course, cost and potentially length of time to fix the problem would be factors in my decision in using a particular garage/dealership but at least I would have all the facts with which to decide.

If we compare this to the Pension Wise service, they would very much be able to diagnose the problem with my car, tell me what needs to be done to fix but in effect direct me to the garage down the road as they can’t actually fix my problem. If this happened to me I may possibly think that my time spent with Pension Wise was OK, but not necessarily the best use of my time and that perhaps I should’ve just gone to the garage/dealership down the road in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong, Pension Wise certainly has a place in the market and for many people it will be an invaluable resource from which to obtain guidance around retirement options and the next steps available however taking the above into account, should an individual just go to a qualified Financial Adviser in the first instance?

If you would like to learn more about Wingate Benefit Solutions standard workplace pension service proposition which includes pension access guidance as a minimum, then please contact Wingate on 01883 332260 and info@wingatebs.com

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