Over the years, clients have quite often fretted about the language of “pensions” and “retirement” and “retirement savings” and the like. They’ve been worried that consumers just don’t like these words, that they find them a turn-off – that if we could find some new, better words, we could re-enthuse consumers and revitalise the subject.
I’ve always had my doubts about all this. It’s always seemed to me – and I have a fair bit of research evidence to support me – that if you use different and unfamiliar words consumers are mystified much more than they’re re-enthused.
But now everything has changed. Thanks to last week’s budget, we urgently need new language – not for cosmetic revitalisation, but because of a fundamental change in what we’re talking about here.
The fact is that what we used to called “pension” or “retirement” savings are now savings for any purpose you like, provided only that you can’t address that purpose until you’re 55. They’re starting-my-own-business savings. They’re taking-a-sabbatical savings. They’re helping-the-kids-get-on-the-property-ladder savings. They’re using-my-miserable-£100k-pot-to-buy-Burger-King-franchise-so-that-I-can-make-up-for-all-those-years-of-underfunding savings. They’re buying-a-second-home-in-Portugal-and-staying-at-work-for-another-10-years savings. They could still be packing-in-work-and-living-on-the-income savings, in other words retirement savings, but that’s only one of a whole bunch of things they could be.
Once upon a time, as I remember, we called the very earliest personal computers “word processors,” because that was the main thing you could do with them. It soon became clear that this was a completely inadequate description. It seems to me that any description which continues to focus on the ideas of “pension” and “retirement” is just as inadequate today.