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The value of face-to-face advice

The value of face-to-face advice

Category: Pensions

Updated: 17/04/2014
First Published: 17/04/2014

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

In an increasingly digital world, dealing with someone face-to-face appears to be becoming a thing of the past, but it seems that those facing retirement still value the human approach when it comes to customer service.

According to research carried out by Consumer Intelligence, 69% of retirement savers believe that the guidance promised by the Government in the 2014 Budget should be face-to-face and explained in a formal session with a qualified adviser.

A further 24% would be willing to use online services as long as there was human help available too, while just 3% would be happy to rely solely on online help.

In the Budget pensioners were rewarded with greater financial freedom and flexibility as to how they access and use their retirement savings, and along with this came the added promise of free advice and guidance, but it has yet to be revealed how this is going to be offered.

David Black of Consumer Intelligence said: "Decisions about retirement income are ones that people literally have to live with so it is clear that people want to take them seriously, and face-to-face guidance is by far the preferred option for the free advice proposed by the government."

However, it seems people want this face-to-face advice to be available locally, with most only willing to travel an average of 11.4 miles and only 8% happy to travel more than 25 miles to get it.

The importance of advice being administered face-to-face becomes even more imperative in the light of the recent announcement that pensioners are to be given a rough idea of how long they are likely to live. The sensitive nature of this kind of information highlights the value of careful and considered guidance.

With average life expectancy rising - females born now are expected to reach 87.7 years on average and males 78.9 – the Government is fearful that many people could underestimate how long they are going to live and therefore could spend their pension pots too quickly, leaving themselves struggling later on.

Then you have the flip side of the equation with some conscientious savers perhaps erring too much on the side of caution and compromising their standard of living unnecessarily, only to be left with a sizable, and unfortunately redundant, pension pot when they die.

Factors such as where you live and your wealth, as well as your health and lifestyle choices can play an important part in life expectancy and it is these that are to come into consideration when pensioners are given a rough idea of how long their retirement is likely to be.

These revelations could come as a shock to some people so reassuringly, ministers have claimed it will be done in a sensitive manner and given face-to-face by an advisor and only on the request of the individual.

Many consumers put great value on the internet with it enabling them to research the best deals independently, and it's indisputable that the online world has revolutionised many aspects of our lives, but when it comes to issues as important and sensitive as retirement it seems the human approach still wins hands down.

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