I remember vividly once reading a local paper feature on the state of our pavements.
The enterprising reporter had painstakingly counted and then graded the cracks, splits, holes and fissures which presented a threat to loyal readers and colourfully characterised their risk-profile in the style of the title of this post.
I recall it ensured a steady flow of follow-ups as folk stumbled, tripped or faltered on their journey with the resulting “it-made-me-drop-my-chips” type-tales.
A bit of imagination, a lot of hard work and a realisation that mapping this everyday hazard would resonate has remained with me. Locating, cataloguing and sizing what is a risk somehow made it more real, especially with a dash of creativity.
I wanted to channel this original spirit with the services we’ve developed to keep people informed and aware of the “gaps” in their knowledge around retiring. I know it sounds a bit tenuous but stick with me.
Unless you can pay for advice or financial planning, chances are you’re on your own for some of the biggest decisions you are likely to make in your lifetime. When to retire. How to retire. What to retire on.
While there is plenty of trustworthy information available, most people aren’t sure where to start. Traditionally, they have looked to their employer and this connection endures.
We’ve created Aspire to Retire, our award-winning service, which HR teams can easily pop alongside their existing employee benefits and intranet. Updated and responsive, it helps your employees who are 50 and over make sense of the steps they need to consider en route to a full or partial retirement.
Or, put another way, a modest outlay to help your people spot and avoid the first of a few exposed paving slab edges in this unfamiliar neighbourhood.
Pension Potential – an online tool to help your employees see more clearly their retirement options - is also safe underfoot for them to test out what they now know. Taking a couple of minutes to input your details will bring up what your pension will buy you in terms of what you can expect to live on. Again, this website sits alongside existing intranet/benefits information.
It shows you every – not just some – annuity deal on the market and demonstrates the full range of options. It’s free to use for employers and their staff.
Given the importance of financial planning to prepare for this time of life, this gives everyone clear sight of what their savings will buy. Should they want financial advice or, in our case, Chartered financial planning, we also offer this.
Feedback has been encouraging. Pitfalls identified and veered away from, footing secure in a new part of town.
Indeed, we’re even helping people track down money they may have overlooked. It has been previously estimated that £19bn is lying unclaimed in accounts because savers forgot to tell their pension company they had moved house, changed jobs or their name.
We founded National Pension Tracing Day last year, for which we have now won an award. Some of the biggest names in pensions and investments are now behind it and people are finding pots they didn’t know they had, helping them to plan – or live – with more financial confidence.
Thinking about, calculating how much and discovering what you might have forgotten about in retirement is our version of helping people span what’s known as The Advice Gap. Our journalist may well have called it The Perils of the Pension Pavement but you get the picture.
It’s a direction we all have to walk in and if we can do so with more certainty and a clearer picture of the destination, that’s a headline we want everyone to talk about.