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Shock horror pensions

Iím writing this article on the second of July, my Dadís birthday as it happens, and probably quite some time before you will be reading it. As well as using this column to send my Dad a (by now belated) birthday wish, I also want to follow-up on a discussion I had at the weekend with him where we were talking about the public perception of pensions. His view, by the way, was that pensions donít have a particularly good image with the public at the moment. His opinion is based on nothing more than reading the national press, but, as he would be the first to point out, he does read quite widely. Heís aware of the dangers of drawing opinions from a narrow source of information. Heís a smart guy.

I thought it would be pretty easy to prove him wrong and get him to admit heís more than a tad on the cynical side and that he was probably only trying to wind me up anyway. The easy way to do it, I thought, would be to just print off the articles on pensions that have appeared in the quality national press over the last two days and attempt to produce a balanced summary of the wide range of views on pensions that those articles represented. Iíve done this and, instead, Iíve written out the headlines of all the articles about pensions I could find (or at least as many as the 350 word limit on my article allows). Sadly, it gives a distinct flavour of what our industry appears to be like to the widely-read reader of our quality press, even if they only read the headlines!

UK Pensions Reality Check. Crisis Adds to Insurers Woes. Holiday Lull Mustnít Cool Pension Heat. Farnish: ĎWe Have a Problemí. Why Your Address Could Leave You With a Reduced Pension. Insurers Wilt Under the Storm. Call to Ease Pension Tax Rules. War Veterans Die Waiting for Rebates. Pension Funds Prepare to Sue Wall St Banks. Stakeholder Pensions Not Hitting Target Market. A Pension Policy That Has Turned Gold to Dust. Blockages in Europeís Pensions Pipe Dream. Pensionsí Exit Fines Raised as Shares Dip. Stakeholder Sales Crisis for Providers. Labour Admits Blunder Over Pensions Savings. Pensions Accounting Rule is Set for Delay. Pensions Savings Gap is Bigger by Billions. Whitehall Makes Farce of Figures. £35bn Blunder Puts Pensions in Disarray. Pension Payments Double-Counted.

Iíll be honest. Itís not as positive as Iíd have hoped, but weíre still only two days into the month; perhaps things will pick up.

Steve Bee

First published in Pensions Management, 01/08/02