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Thanksgiving and the Gunpowder Plot

Did you know that Thanksgiving and the Gunpowder plot are connected?

When you think of Thanksgiving, you probably think of our friends across the water celebrating with Turkey and Pumpkin pie. In fact, days of thanksgiving were important during the English Reformation in the reign of Henry VIII in reaction to the large number of religious holidays on the Catholic calendar. An unusual annual Day of Thanksgiving began in 1606 following the failure of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605 and developed into Guy Fawkes Day on November 5. So it is all joined up.

This is exactly what we need to do with all the initiatives that are currently bubbling up in the pensions landscape. We have…

  • The rise of defined contribution pension pots with fewer people having any form of defined benefit provision.
  • We have eye-watering high transfer values from defined benefit pension schemes.
  • Automatic enrolment is putting more people into pension schemes, often unbeknown to them.
  • Increasing number of people working outside the conventional workplace.
  • Pension freedoms increasing the options available for taking your pension pot from age 55.
  • The pension dashboard as promised in this year's budget.

We need to join the dots on all of these initiatives.

  • People are facing decisions for the first time, not something that their parents had to deal with.
  • These decisions are important and people need help with them.
  • Information is more accessible but information in isolation does not lead to informed decisions.

We need to make it a social norm to seek help with pensions. We need to help people move from being recipients of pensions to consumers of financial services. The way to do this is to make interventions that will change people’s behaviours – think “5p for carrier bag”, think recycling encouraged through fewer bin collections.

We support the need for interventions that will make seeking pensions guidance easier. This December TPAS will launch a Midlife Review aimed at helping the self-employed to save. We also back the introduction of default guidance where a guidance appointment is automatically arranged for an individual when he/she asks to access the pension pot.

These interventions should enable people to get help to make informed decisions, which will lead to more thanksgiving days.

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