Pensions and “dramatic change” do not normally sit side by side. But in the new tax year on April 6, people aged 55 and over will be able to choose how to spend their pension savings rather than being obliged to buy an annuity – a fixed yearly amount guaranteed for life.
When Chancellor George Osborne announced the pension reforms in 2014’s Budget, he called them the most far-reaching changes to the taxation of pensions “since the regime was introduced in 1921”.
Pension savers will be able to take out 25pc of their savings tax-free and in theory take out and spend the rest as well. There has been consternation about a rash of over-50s buying Ferraris and having nothing to live on in their old age, but most people are expected to keep their money invested, although perhaps in a different kind of savings account such as an ISA.
The term “pensions freedom” returns 40 million results on Google and a significant number of people are doubtless planning a bit of a spree. Saga estimates 22pc of people will cash in all their savings, while financial adviser Hargreaves Lansdown’s research shows the proportion at a lower 12pc.
This still means a significant release of cash from pension funds into the real world, and a range of industries could benefit: tourism, real estate, car sales, private schools (grandparents paying the fees), home improvement and the wine trade, for starters. Providers of savings and investment products such as ISAs and crowd-funding platforms should also be ready to advise savers who still want to put their money away, just to move it out of a pension fund.
In terms of content marketing and using your online presence to reach an interested audience, there are two ways companies can address the approaching pension changes. For financial services companies, now is the time to provide guidance about what the changes will involve and what they may mean for people eligible to draw their pension. For consumer goods and services companies, it’s time to attract some expenditure.
Of the first financial services group, you could improve on the government’s Pension Wise, its own advice site which has already drawn criticism from experts including Ros Altmann (an adviser to the Government) for being “flat” rather than interactive and lacking vital features such as a tax calculator for working out what people would owe, depending how much of their pensions pot they liberated.
Practical features have a strong appeal for readers and the companies already producing content which ranks on the first page of Google search for “pensions reform” are Hargreaves Lansdown, which explains the pension rule changes, and pensions and savings providers Standard Life and Scottish Widows.
A search online also shows up a couple of missed opportunities. Saga, the travel and financial specialist for older people, has had published a number of surveys on the subject in the press. But on the Money page of its own website, there was no content about pension changes on the first page in the middle of February.
The chief executive of Royal London Asset Management has also made headlines this month for his criticisms of the way the reforms have been put through, but the company has no mention of these views on its site, in spite of running an excellent blog with investment advice from various senior members of staff, which would be a natural home for such an article.
Opportunities clearly abound for consumer goods, leisure and property companies to take some of the highly-ranked spots on Google for their content. Now is the time to get that content published and promoted.