Robert Gardner says it is time for the industry to step up on financial education
Whether it's Brexit and the impact it has had on pension fund deficits, regulation and how it restricts options or technology and the role artificial intelligence increasingly plays in decision making - the industry expends a great deal of effort on external events.
However, the one area it hasn't spent much time on is the one where the industry really could make a massive difference to outcomes. What am I talking about? Financial education.
Consultants create points of difference that in many cases don't exist, while asset managers create funds we don't actually need. We are so busy in competition with each other that we often don't stop to work out if we are doing enough to fix the problems our industry faces.
There are a dozen stats I could throw at you about the savings crisis or about how much debt school or university leavers have before they start work. These facts should not come as a surprise yet we have chosen as an industry not to act.
Having recognised the challenges the younger generations will face, as an industry it's our responsibility to act. Financial education and capability is an industry problem that needs industry solutions. We have created a product that people simply don't want, or understand how, to engage with.
We need to take responsibility for helping people make better decisions and really understand the impact of making either the wrong decisions or no decision at all when it comes to saving for the future.
It would be easy to ask, "What's in it for me, how can my company make profit?", then if you don't like the answer simply move on and say it's someone else's problem. That's a cop out. We have been guilty of creating overly complex products, we have hidden behind opaque charging and we have allowed companies to act irresponsibly as long as they return a good dividend for shareholders.
That can't go on. Financial education and capability are the largest issues I think as an industry we can help solve and that should sit outside competition fears. We would all like a more informed buyer, individuals who get the need for long-term saving and are already in the habit of saving. Together we can create that.
Research has shown that habits are formed very early in our lives. As an industry we have been guilty of sitting back and not doing anything about it. Together, we are a powerful lobbying group.
We can help the government understand the need to have a clear and considered plan, and take action to ensure every child understands how to budget, how to save, the impact of early saving and compound interest as well as the crippling impact debt might have on them. I mentioned stats earlier, here's one I couldn't resist: the savings ratio for 18-30s is -2% (that's not a hyphen, its minus 2%).
It's 10 years since Dawid and I started Redington. A lot has changed in that time, we have seen a lot of regulation, market swings up and down, political shifts. But when I reflect there are a few things that haven't really changed. People are not any better equipped to make financial decisions with confidence and the 'turn a blind eye' attitude to this has prevailed.
Our goal now must be to ensure that we equip children with the attitude, skills and resources to achieve their personal and financial goals.
Robert Gardner is co-founder of Redington
Martin Lewis founded Money Saving Expert, a website that has since built up an email following of 13 million people, after investing just £100 in a website at the beginning of the millennium. But how has Lewis achieved such cracking engagement? And what...
Karen Quinn and Rhys Williams explain how data can be used to improve pension scheme engagement.
The industry has had little success engaging members with pensions over the past 20 years. Jonathan Stapleton says two initiatives currently underway may change this in the future.
Arthur J. Gallagher has bought Anthony Hodges Consulting (AHC) in a bid to become a major global employee communications company.
Pension Awareness Day - the awareness campaign launched by the amazing folk over at Pension Geeks - takes place this Sunday (15 September) and is the culmination of a week-long roadshow across the country aimed at making the topic of pensions more appealing....