Pension reforms one month on – more online help for consumers

At the beginning of April the media went into overdrive speculating what would happen when people were given greater access to their pension cash, but it seems that the scare stories of people splurging their pension pot on fast cars and expensive holidays were well wide of the mark.

Having spoken to some of the pension providers, they have been much busier as you’d have expected however it seems that most people are seeking guidance and clarification regarding their options and the most suitable ways to manage their retirement savings.

A spokesman from Scottish Widows said: “We were prepared to expect a surge in calls the week beginning 6th April with people deferring accessing their pensions until the freedoms came into effect and we had on average a call every 10 seconds.

“It was also a watershed for us in terms of online – more customers have contacted us digitally than by phone.  We received 45,000 phone calls in the first three weeks with 55,000 people visiting our Retirement Freedoms website”.

One positive that has come out of the high profile changes is that there is now a growing choice of excellent online resources for consumers who are keen to understand more about their retirement planning options, without them having to book a face to face appointment with a financial adviser.

With more people aged 60 or over in the UK than there are those aged under 18 you cannot underestimate the need for straightforward help and guidance for this fast growing sector of the UK population.

As well as the Scottish Widows ‘5 steps to retirement’ guide, Unbiased.co.uk has launched ‘Your retirement countdown checklist’ in partnership with Prudential.

More than a fifth of people admit that they have taken no steps to plan for their retirement, so this sort of online resource will prove an invaluable help in making that first step.

It covers the key stages every new pensioner needs to take in order to ensure they make the right choices for themselves under pension freedom, and in the decade leading up to retirement.

Skipton Building Society has been proactive in this area too with the launch of RetireSavvy an online retirement community.

As well as helping demystify retirement through a range of articles, real-life user blogs and discussion on its live forum, retiresavvy aims to contribute to the wider social debate around retirement and provide a strong voice for retirees and pre-retirees.

Dr Ros Altmann CBE, the UK Government’s Business Champion for Older Workers and an independent expert on consumer finance, pensions and retirement, praised the move:

“There is certainly a need for this, as too many people fail to plan ahead and don’t make the most of their later life opportunities. Retirement is not just about money – it is something that has a major impact on people’s lives and their families – and you really need to be prepared for it.

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