Justin Urquhart Stewart
The Brexit negotiations have barely begun and already they’ve spiralled into petty party spats on both sides of the House of Commons that hog the headlines.
These only seem to serve to deflect Government from its proper role: to help make society better through good management of the economy and legislation
to protect the vulnerable.
Instead, we’re stuck in a situation where any government will have to spend its time working out how it reintroduces legislation already on the statute books (but only due to our membership of the EU) back onto the books after we’ve left. You really couldn’t make it up!
What’s not being focused on is a real debate about how we help people get a grip on their finances and give them the wherewithal to start planning… or at least to realise they need financial planning. Research we ran suggests only one in eight people have sought any professional advice about their pensions. Meanwhile just less than a quarter of people don’t want to talk about pensions full stop.
7IM, the company I co-founded in 2002, recently kick started a 'we need to talk about' campaign. It focuses on research that throws into question some of the old assumptions about retirement planning – and especially the concept of de-risking the closer you get there – a concept which we think really does belong back in the 1980s – much like my dress sense I suppose!
It's thought that around £100bn is invested in the so-called lifestyle funds that do precisely that. Meanwhile many people don't even realise that their pension is being de-risked as retirement approaches.
The approach may be right for some of your clients, but it absolutely won't be right for everyone. The world has changed: people are living longer, money has to work so much harder and we’ve never had as much choice about what to do with pension pots. People need to be in a position of knowledge to make the right decisions.
Here’s where we as an industry can step up. There's a huge education job to be done which needs to stretch beyond the classroom through to the workplace and around the coffee table. None of us want to face an old age where the money has run out and wouldn’t if they did something about it – if only everyone knew how!
So it's time to get talking. It's time for a national conversation. And the PFS Festival of Financial Planning on 7 and 8 November at the NEC in Birmingham is the perfect place to help. People need to be in a much greater position of knowledge about what's possible – they might not need to know every holding they are exposed to, but they do need to know if they are being automatically moved into assets that may not meet their longer term needs.
I’ll be there to share our research and help you to get more people to appreciate the benefits of financial planning, flagging what’s great about our profession. When it comes to financial education, you’ll see that I've always believed in action, not words. Now I think it’s time for both.
I look forward to seeing you there.