Lunch, Toxicity and why I call my pension “Alan”.

The other day I met another regular contributor to the Adviser Lounge, Jamie Jenkins, for a spot of lunch and a discussion around auto enrolment and some of the challenges providers, intermediaries, employers and employees face both now and in the next few years.

We talked about loads of different stuff including the power of the nudge (and the fact that the government now have a ‘nudge’ department), capacity crunches and the what we can learn from international forays into quasi compulsion type retirement experiments.

One of the things I suggested, more to spark a debate than to suggest an immediate revolution, is that pensions shouldn’t be called pensions anymore….

I suggested (and only partially in jest) that the word “Pension” is now toxic and we should seriously look at changing the name of what we call a vehicle to help us save for retirement.

There are plenty of times when I’ve heard people not involved in the financial world say the following…

“Pensions are rubbish….look what’s happened to pensions in the past few years. You’re better off investing in X”

There are a range of arguments on making pensions more attractive by improving flexibility, or reducing charges, or giving people the ‘nudge’ of quasi compulsion in the form of auto enrolment.

However the question I’d ask is that outside the bubble of the financial world I’m wondering if  the word ‘pensions’ is too tainted….or even worse….too Boring!

In Australia, Pensions are colloquially called “Super’s” (short for superannuation)…now I don’t know about you but if I had a choice between a “Pension” and a “Super” I’d rather have the latter.

Jamie’s take when we discussed this at lunch was slightly different and he argued that the american equivalent of the pension, the “401k”, isn’t the most attractive name for a retirement plan but is pretty well respected in the US and potentially the name has no impact or having a name which sounds really legislative (like 401k) works as well as a ‘quirky’ name (like “Super”)

So, maybe a name makes no difference. but maybe (and just maybe) having a more interesting name than ‘pension’ in conjunction with a number of other changes might mean more individuals take ownership than ever before and I’ve got some suggestions….

How about “Fund Accumulated Benefit” or “FAB” (coincidentally the name of my favorite lolly)

or

to reflect the long term nature of saving for retirement – “The Marathon Fund” (it could be re branded as “The Snickers fund” later on)

or

we could go for something obscure and just call it “Alan”…..

after all, anything might be better than “Pension”.

———————————————————-

however I’m interested in your thoughts….

Could changing the name of retirement saving make any difference? or are the range of other changes (including auto enrolment) enough to generate longer term engagement back into ‘pensions’? Do you think that the word ‘pensions’ has become a toxic term in the UK today?

I look forward to hearing from you.

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32 thoughts on “Lunch, Toxicity and why I call my pension “Alan”.

  • I vote Alan – or Marmaduke. I think there is merit in calling pensions something different, however I think the name change at the time of auto enrolment would’ve been the most effective time.

    But from now on, I’m going to call my pension provisions Marmaduke, or Alan for short.

    Reply
    • Hi Bridget,

      I agree! With everything going on in the world of retirement saving over the next few years….experimenting with the name might not be the wisest thing to do!

      Maybe in a few years….

      Reply
  • I mooted the idea once of changing the pension system to ‘Tell your boss to sod off’ vouchers, allowing employees to purchase a day for themselves or another which represented a day less they had to work. It’s yet to be debated in Parliament.

    Reply
    • I’m not convinced about the name….but I like the idea of potentially illustrating how many ‘days’ of retirement you’re buying with each contribution (based on certain assumptions).

      It might work….but it might be an assumptive and compliance nightmare. Imagine an individual assuming they are buying 2 days with every contribution but then finding it’s reduced by half or even more due to factors out of there control.

      Reply
  • For many years now we’ve said to people ‘forget the word pension, just think of it as a tax free trust fund.’ It’s not catchy, but for many people it’s a much more appealing concept.

    (And, before Alistair Cunningham steps in to correct me, yes we do go on to explain that it’s not entirely tax free and there there is tax on dividends and on income and so forth!)

    Reply
    • Hi Chris,

      I don’t necessarily think a name needs to be catch but engaging and appealing….so if ‘tax efficient trust fund’ works I’m all for it! (as long is it doesn’t upset Alistair!!)

      Reply
  • Great piece, Chris. I started typing a comment and then realised it could probably be a blog in its own right! Will post the link here when I’ve written it. Thank you for the inspiration!

    Reply
    • Hi Martin,

      Thanks for your comment….I’m looking forward to reading your blog entry….can you let me know when it’s up so I can take a look?

      Reply
  • So …I have to change my name to Pension Keegan ?

    Can I pay more into my Allthats Left Afterfees Nomineeaccount ?

    Reply
    • Hi Alan,

      Great Name! 🙂

      Reply
  • Hi Chris! Great article.

    A re brand is exactly what it needs! I vote Alan, you could also use this spoof to help promote it! Meerkats seem to be the way forward these days!!

    Reply
    • Thanks Danielle,

      The video’s great and it seems meerkats are the future!

      Weirdly I think we can learn about the “Compare the Market” ad campaign. Whilst you can argue whether it’s effective. It is pretty memorable and amusing!

      When did you last see any form of funny and memorable pensions communications?

      Reply
  • In our little world we have long referred to a pension plan as simply a ” Choice ” describing the process as creating- with the help of the taxman -some options for that time when you think you might like to stop going into work to earn money.

    Pensions have always been one of the best sources of business providing you sell the sizzle.

    Reply
    • Hi Phil,

      I think ‘a choice’ is the most concise way of explaining what we aim to help our clients with.

      I’m wondering whether we could call ‘pensions’ simply ‘the choice’.

      Thanks as always for your comment….

      Reply
  • So, I’m going with ‘section 17(1)(c), 99, 1442(2) 4 1998(1) under the Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Automatic Enrolment) (Amendment) Regulations 2013’ as the answer. Couldn’t be more engaging. Maybe? Maybe not.

    I have a friend who called his dog ‘Ian’. Sounds equally inappropriate (but slightly brilliant) to me.

    How about just ‘long term saving’? And ISAs are for ‘short to medium term saving’. The former is locked away; the latter is a rainy day. It even rhymes.

    …so maybe ‘locked away’ and ‘rainy day’?

    Reply
    • Thanks Jamie….Catchy title….but perhaps we could call it section 17(1)(c) for short! 🙂

      I liked ‘locked away’ and ‘rainy day’….however I’m not sure how those names would encourage potential customers who logically know they should delay gratification but emotionally don’t.

      …..and as for your mate who called his dog ‘Ian’….he sounds like a genius to me….

      ….what did he call his fish? Dave?

      Reply
  • Great piece, Chris. I started typing a comment and then realised it could probably be a blog in its own right! Will post the link here when I’ve written it. Thank you for the inspiration!

    Reply
    • Hi Martin,

      Thanks for your comment….I’m looking forward to reading your blog entry….can you let me know when it’s up so I can take a look?

      Reply
  • I vote Alan – or Marmaduke. I think there is merit in calling pensions something different, however I think the name change at the time of auto enrolment would’ve been the most effective time.

    But from now on, I’m going to call my pension provisions Marmaduke, or Alan for short.

    Reply
    • Hi Bridget,

      I agree! With everything going on in the world of retirement saving over the next few years….experimenting with the name might not be the wisest thing to do!

      Maybe in a few years….

      Reply
  • For many years now we’ve said to people ‘forget the word pension, just think of it as a tax free trust fund.’ It’s not catchy, but for many people it’s a much more appealing concept.

    (And, before Alistair Cunningham steps in to correct me, yes we do go on to explain that it’s not entirely tax free and there there is tax on dividends and on income and so forth!)

    Reply
    • Hi Chris,

      I don’t necessarily think a name needs to be catch but engaging and appealing….so if ‘tax efficient trust fund’ works I’m all for it! (as long is it doesn’t upset Alistair!!)

      Reply
  • I mooted the idea once of changing the pension system to ‘Tell your boss to sod off’ vouchers, allowing employees to purchase a day for themselves or another which represented a day less they had to work. It’s yet to be debated in Parliament.

    Reply
    • I’m not convinced about the name….but I like the idea of potentially illustrating how many ‘days’ of retirement you’re buying with each contribution (based on certain assumptions).

      It might work….but it might be an assumptive and compliance nightmare. Imagine an individual assuming they are buying 2 days with every contribution but then finding it’s reduced by half or even more due to factors out of there control.

      Reply
  • So …I have to change my name to Pension Keegan ?

    Can I pay more into my Allthats Left Afterfees Nomineeaccount ?

    Reply
    • Hi Alan,

      Great Name! 🙂

      Reply
  • Hi Chris! Great article.

    A re brand is exactly what it needs! I vote Alan, you could also use this spoof to help promote it! Meerkats seem to be the way forward these days!!

    Reply
    • Thanks Danielle,

      The video’s great and it seems meerkats are the future!

      Weirdly I think we can learn about the “Compare the Market” ad campaign. Whilst you can argue whether it’s effective. It is pretty memorable and amusing!

      When did you last see any form of funny and memorable pensions communications?

      Reply
  • In our little world we have long referred to a pension plan as simply a ” Choice ” describing the process as creating- with the help of the taxman -some options for that time when you think you might like to stop going into work to earn money.

    Pensions have always been one of the best sources of business providing you sell the sizzle.

    Reply
    • Hi Phil,

      I think ‘a choice’ is the most concise way of explaining what we aim to help our clients with.

      I’m wondering whether we could call ‘pensions’ simply ‘the choice’.

      Thanks as always for your comment….

      Reply
  • So, I’m going with ‘section 17(1)(c), 99, 1442(2) 4 1998(1) under the Occupational and Personal Pension Schemes (Automatic Enrolment) (Amendment) Regulations 2013’ as the answer. Couldn’t be more engaging. Maybe? Maybe not.

    I have a friend who called his dog ‘Ian’. Sounds equally inappropriate (but slightly brilliant) to me.

    How about just ‘long term saving’? And ISAs are for ‘short to medium term saving’. The former is locked away; the latter is a rainy day. It even rhymes.

    …so maybe ‘locked away’ and ‘rainy day’?

    Reply
    • Thanks Jamie….Catchy title….but perhaps we could call it section 17(1)(c) for short! 🙂

      I liked ‘locked away’ and ‘rainy day’….however I’m not sure how those names would encourage potential customers who logically know they should delay gratification but emotionally don’t.

      …..and as for your mate who called his dog ‘Ian’….he sounds like a genius to me….

      ….what did he call his fish? Dave?

      Reply

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