Featured article, Financial planning, Pension consulting

21st Century Perrin: what Reggie tells us about how far we’ve come

Jonathan Punter
Jonathan Punter Chief Executive

In spite of unceasing cookery programmes all featuring hand-made ravioli, for those of us of a certain vintage, there is only one true recipe.

And that is the tinned fare Reggie Perrin decided he would eat for every meal that day as part of his surreal one-man malcontent’s crusade against corporate conformity at Sunshine Desserts.

Needless to say, this particular episode with Mrs P telling him she had cooked his favourite for dinner – ravioli – ended with a silent scream as the picture cut to black.

Before you start thinking: why is he going on about a 43-year-old sitcom? It is a timely reference as plans are afoot forReggie Perrin: The Musical.

I am not privy to how this particular episode will be realised on stage (Mike Batt, creator of the Wombles, is writing the songs) but it does tell us a lot about how things have changed in the world of work.

And far from leading you to fake your own death to escape CJ, the commute and the in-laws, many of us face far more options than ever before.

We’re living longer and many are working longer because we want to or, (and this will grow in future), can’t afford not to.

In turn, we’re seeing this diversity in age and experience reflected in the labour market. This also means pensions have had to change.

In Reggie’s day, there would have been a defined benefit scheme for a life spent toiling in the trifle and instant custard sector. Many would have worked for one company, most would not have claimed a pension to support them for more time than they spent at the office.

Now, with most of the UK’s workforce set to be aged 50 or above in coming years, this is changing. We need to be ready for this. Academics have identified it, companies are grappling with it.

Previously, where there was a traditional focus on training and development for new starters and a retirement service for those at the end of their careers, the section in between of mature, experienced staff tended to be overlooked when it came to pension planning.

This evolving demographic means there needs to be more attention paid to this middle-bracket to help them make the right choices to support whatever lifestyle they want in later life.

There’s nothing new in this ongoing debate about how we, as a society, manage the need for people to keep working.

From freelancers and zero-hours to out-sourcers and disruptors, the labour market continues to transform in front of us.

But this means pensions are changing too. Sensible folk would be nudged to look into this five years ahead of hanging up their hats but we now recognise this should be even further out – ten or 20 years.

And if Reggie were looking down on us now, even he might see this as a step forward. Not “super” or “great” but certainly positive.