Run by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), Pension Wise is a free service that helps people understand their options for their pension pot. According to new figures from MaPS, in 2018/19 the service provided 167,000 interactions overall. This includes 130,000 face-to-face or telephone appointments arranged, compared with 87,000 in 17/18 - a 49% increase year on year. 

In the last two years, Pension Wise has extended its reach to more customers through a new digital self-service offering, which was completed by 37,000 people in 18/19.      

Pension Wise has expanded rapidly during its first four years increasing over two and a half times from 60,000 transactions in 2015/16 to over 167,000 in 18/19.  

Service evaluation data for 18/19 shows that 95% of appointment customers are likely to recommend the service to others or have already done so and 93% were satisfied with the service - both consistent with the levels recorded in previous years. 

The 18/19 figures show that Pension Wise appointments have lasting effects – appointment customers feel more informed, are more knowledgeable and take more positive steps towards accessing their pension pots than a similar group of people who haven’t used the service. In the three-month period following their interaction with the service:  

  • Nine in ten appointment customers (95%) feel very or fairly well informed of their pension options compared to 57% of non-users  
  • Six in ten (60%) appointment customers calculate the income needed in retirement, versus 36% of non-users
  • 34% of appointment customers speak to a financial advisor versus 26% of non-users  
  • 95% of appointment customers also said they are very or fairly confident they are able to avoid any pension scams, compared with 83% of non-users.   
  • Nine in ten of the appointment customers who spoke to their pension providers (93%) felt they were well prepared for their discussion with providers about their pension options. They were more likely to feel prepared than the non-users who had spoken to their providers (77%).   

Customers who decided to access their pension savings after their experience with Pension Wise in 18/19 are more likely to take steps to inform themselves prior to making arrangements: 

  • 86% of appointment customers checked how much tax they would pay based on their chosen options (versus 73% of non-users)  
  • 36% of appointment customers shopped around for quotes from other pension providers (versus 19% of non-users)   
  • 70% of appointment customers looked into any charges they might incur based on their chosen options (compared with 46% of non-users)

 Digital customers are also more likely than non-users to take steps to inform themselves prior to making arrangements: 

  • 87% of digital customers checked how much tax they would pay based on their chosen options (versus 73% of non-users)  
  • 32% of digital customers shopped around for quotes from other pension providers (versus 19% of non-users)   
  • 74% of digital customers looked into any charges they might incur based on their chosen options (versus 46% of non-users) 

The evaluation shows that appointment customers are most likely to hear about Pension Wise through their pension provider (56%). Trials are also underway to assess the best way to persuade people to take guidance from Pension Wise before accessing pension savings.   

Carolyn Jones, Head of Pensions Policy and Strategy at the Money and Pensions Service said:   

“For many people, their pension is one of the biggest assets they’ll ever have, and the decisions they make about accessing their savings will impact how they live the rest of their lives. It is crucial people make the right decisions for their circumstances, so it’s great to see so many customers feeling empowered by our Pension Wise service. We are committed to increasing the usage of Pension Wise and continuing to improve the service for customers.”  

You can visit the Pension Wise website at pensionwise.gov.uk to see what the service offers and to begin to understand your available options.

If you want to book a telephone or face to face appointment call 0300 330 1001.