Bridging the pension advice gap

'You and your pension pot when you retire’ - A customer friendly guide to the new pension freedoms. By Billy Burrows.

Confucius said, ‘Tell me, and I will forget. Show me, and I may remember. Involve me, and I will understand’.  Never mind Confucius – a lot of clients nearing retirement are just plain confused. And if your clients don’t understand their options, how are they ever going to make those all-important decisions?

You’re probably familiar with the Catch-22 faced by a certain section of the population. It’s simply too difficult for most people to make retirement decisions without first speaking to an expert – but the government and regulators have created an advice gap that is much bigger than they dare admit. The result is that the very people who need advice the most – those with pension pots too big to just cash in, but not big enough to justify top end advice – are left in no-man’s land.

So what’s the answer? Certainly not robo-advice. I have tried to do my bit in tackling this impasse. My new consumer guide to pension freedom, written in association with Prudential, is specifically aimed at individuals who are bewildered by the choices confronting them, but lack even the confidence to go and seek financial advice. With the guide I aim to take them part of the way, so that they can travel the rest in the company of a professional adviser.

About the new guide

You and your pension pot when you retire’ took a few tries to get right – when I was halfway through the first draft, one of the marketing team at Prudential said it still looked like a textbook for older people. There’s nothing like a bit of criticism to spur you on – it made me all the more determined to turn the guide into a truly customer friendly publication.

Remember those words of Confucius, I set out to involve my readers as much as possible. I filled it with tips, rules of thumb, hazards to watch out for, and a fictional couple (John and Mary) to help illustrate some of the trickier issues. The result, I hope, is engaging enough to boost people’s confidence to the level at which they can go out and seek formal advice.

Because that’s the real point here – not to go on about my guide, but to share what I learned in the process of putting it together. The secret to filling the advice gap may be simply to engage with people more effectively. It’s not about how much or how little they earn – it’s about how well they understand the potential value of advice.

Here are some of the lessons I picked up along the way:

üDon’t be afraid to make things simple. To make things really simple you have to know your subject backwards. Clients can tell between those who expertly make things simply and those who are bluffing.

üUse techniques to grab people’s attention. Attention spans are short; many people skim read or listen selectively, so you must keep their attention.

üTry and draw people into a conversation rather than a lecture. Get alongside your clients and put yourself in their shoes, rather than talk down to them.

üRecognise that advice is a two-way process. The best outcomes are achieved when clients play an active role in the advice process.

If you’d like to download a free copy of my guide to share with your clients, you can find it at

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