Room for improvement: Brendan Llewellyn’s take on the Pension Wise website

Consultant Brendan Llewellyn takes a look at the Pension Wise website, and can't quite believe what he is (and isn't) reading...

The Pension Wise website – www.pensionwise.co.uk – asks for feedback, so here’s mine.

It’s not very good, not very good in so many ways.

1 Apart from a gratuitous cartoon at the start where a couple approach a blank signpost, it’s almost entirely colourless.

2 With page after page of nothing more than text, it’s unlikely to engage the reader. Yes, it’s a government site but why does it have to look like a set of instructions on how to fill in your self-assessment form?

3 Gingerly stepping around the meaningless guidance/advice distinction, it manages to ensure continued disengagement.

4 Is there a helpful list of website links? No

5 Are there any examples, case studies, scenarios? No, which is a pity because many users will only engage if an effort is made to bring the subject to life.

6 Is there any use of graphics to help the user through? No. The only sign or colour or movement is when you click off to a different site.

7 Does it help the user consider their choices in this brave new world? To a limited extent – it lists basic choices but gives no indication as to why one might make such choices or the consequences.

8 Does it give the user any sense of what life might be like in retirement? No

9 Does it give me any sense that retirement might be something to look forward to? No

10 Nor does it take any inspiration or ideas from other official sites, not even the Money Advice Service offering which, for all its criticism, does contain some decent graphics. Why not borrow them? Surely it’s not for political reasons. Indeed some of the links on Pension Wise take the user off to MAS, which is in itself an unnecessary confusion. Why not embed the content on this site?

11 Does it adequately promote the guidance service? No, it tells me what info I’ll need to take but makes it all seem like I’m being set up for some sort of audit. Does it need to be an ‘appointment’? Mightn’t a ‘meeting’ be a better choice of language? Something softer.

It also tells me nothing about what I might get out of such an ‘appointment’, except that I won’t be told which provider to pick, and, of course, that I have to go to the Citizens Advice Bureau. To be fair I’m not sure where else they could hold them, but CAB always carries a sense that one has to have a problem before you visit. KFC it isn’t.

12 It’s all about tone, and this site has the wrong one.

13 Apparently providers are inundated with enquiries – not surprising, many of them have invested in decent made-for-purpose micro sites on retirement choices.

14 The site offers no decent tools (except a basic life expectancy calculator) and details nothing about expenditure or the fundamental question of coping with lower income.

15 There is nothing about partners, or anything even to suggest a retiree need look at this in terms of household rather than just the individual.

16 There is also nothing by way of aided self-diagnosis, nothing on general attitude to risk, inheritance or expenditure in retirement.

17 There is nothing on equity release, and only a passing reference to trading down.

18 There is nothing on later life and the implications of care costs.

Dear oh dear. To be fair, I should say what’s good. The list of scams is helpful.

So what will all this do for advisers?

The answer is not a great deal of harm or good. I suspect most users would look at this site and find it unappealing.

They might opt to go straight for a call or a face-to-face, or they might jump straight to an adviser.

The site does refer to advice but the stronger emphasis is on ‘shopping around’ and telephoning different providers. But it avoids offering links to annuity comparison services.

I hope it’s dynamic; I hope it will soon be peppered with quotes from happy users of the telephone or face-to-face guidance.

As it stands it looks like it’s been constructed to a minimalist set of objectives – basically, what’s the least we can get away with?

brendan-llewellyn

Brendan Llewellyn is owner of Marketing Edge and director of Adviser Home.