There’s a new endangered species to add to the ever growing list. Never mind your black rhinos or your Sumatran orangutans. No, the one we need to worry about is UFPLS.
The ABI has called time on pensions jargon. It’s consulting on a new guide to pensions language which will clear away the confusing in favour of simplicity to make it all easier to understand and help consumers make more effective comparisons.
The consultation (which is open until 19 June) appears to be one of those rare occasions where everyone (ABI, industry, government and consumer groups) is cheerleading for the same team. Where something is being allowed to be a good idea! without the other team waiting in the wings ready to wind it with a vicious, and extremely well aimed, football.
And it is a good thing. As an industry we have always struggled with what should be the simple act of talking to our customers. There are those of us who love their jargon and cling to it because knowing words other people don’t makes them feel a little bit special. There’s a word for them too. However, we know very well just how hard some companies have fought over the years to be rid of it. We know this because sometimes they ask us to help them.
We’ve found ourselves reading through a lot of literature over the years. Frankly even that is jargon. No disrespect to any of our fine providers but I’ve never found myself reading a set of SIPP key features and confusing it with Jane Austen. Anyway, on a first read, it can be easy to think! Well this could be better and often things could. But it’s not always a fair fight. Many times the conversation has turned to Yes, we’d like to change the wording but that’s what it’s called, isn’t it?
As frustrating and awkward as some of our industry language is, we are bound to use it. Consumers need consistency when comparing offerings and if one provider called it an UFPLS and another called it a taxable lump sum you can have before you take out drawdown or an annuity, then things probably wouldn’t be any better. Although I suspect that new kitchen fund p.s. you’ll have to pay some tax on top would probably work for a good number. Consistency is one of the ABI’s priorities in the new guide and we wish them well with it.
There is one question that bothers me. How well will any of us cope in a completely jargon free environment? It has always been there. It’s familiar and reliable (except when it all changes and then we get new jargon to play with, which is fun too). Perhaps it’s not so much a question of whether we can kill off the jargon but if we will all fare better than UFPLS in the brave new world?