If you're approaching retirement, you're probably starting to think about your income options. The Government's Pension Wise service could be a valuable way to go over things, but what would you like it to cover, and how do you want it to work? Research from Partnership has found out what consumers really want.
Perhaps surprisingly, over a third (35%) of those questioned by Partnership are keen to access the information online, putting paid to the notion that those approaching retirement are less comfortable with online accessibility. In fact, just 20% would like to speak to someone face-to-face, and only 15% would choose the phone service above all else.
Interestingly, the second-highest proportion of respondents (27% of them) would look to use a combination of the three, depending on what they wanted to know. This is not only understandable – there's a lot to talk about when it comes to pensions, and making the right decision is crucial – but suggests that the service may need to prepare for repeat engagements with the same consumer.
What about timings? Well, when asked how long they believe the sessions should last, respondents wanted face-to-face appointments to last the longest (at 50 minutes), followed by online (a session should check in at 42 minutes) and phone (a relatively brief 27-minute conversation). A third (33%) of people felt that face-to-face appointments should 'last as long as is needed', which unfortunately, may not be practical when the service is launched – and perhaps increases the likelihood that consumers will use multiple forms of the service.
So, just what will you want to talk about? Again, the answer is unsurprising, with the most common topic being potential pension income (61%). This was followed by where to get more information (36%), how their finances could work as a couple (25%), and where to get advice (23%).
Just 21% would seek guidance about long-term care, but this is still of more interest than savings (18%) and investments (19%), which perhaps indicates that people are already familiar with the likes of savings, but need more guidance on the implications of later life issues.
The results clearly show that there's a lot to be discussed when it comes to pensions, and you may have questions that aren't listed. It also shows that Pension Wise could well be a first step on the road to making a pension decision, rather than the sole destination – further advice will be sought by many, and that's key to ensuring the right outcome.
Andrew Megson, managing director of Retirement, said: "Overall, the clear message that is coming out from consumers is that they see the Pension Wise service as the start of the retirement decision making journey rather than the end. While two-thirds want to understand their potential retirement income, 36% are keen to know where to get further information and 23% want to know where to get advice.
"It is interesting to see that the online Pension Wise service has come out on top, as you might imagine that the interactive nature of face-to-face guidance or telephone support would be more popular. However, the website allows people to access the information at a time suitable to them, without an appointment and for as long as they feel the need. That said, if you type pensions into Google, you get almost 68 million responses, so people may well find that they end up confused and using the telephone or face-to-face options as well."
So, will you take advantage of Pension Wise? It'll probably be worth it, if only to get more information on the choices you'll face. Read more about the service in our guide so you have a better idea of what to expect. After your session, be it face-to-face, online or over the phone, you'll hopefully feel more able to make your decision, and then it's time to really consider your options. Seek specialist advice to help, or get the process started by consulting our no-obligation annuity planner to have a more tailored idea of your options.
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Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.
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