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Standard Life handles unprecedented calls

Speedboats and weddings on pension pot shopping lists

speedboatBuying a luxury speedboat and paying for a wedding are among the reasons retirees have been cashing in their pension pots, according to Standard Life.

The company says it has handled more than 3,000 calls since policyholders were allowed greater freedom over their retirement savings on Monday.

Customers who chose to take out some of their money were mainly using it to pay off debts while others wanted to meet the cost of health care or to buy property.

The firm said that in addition to those cases dealt with by support staff a further 1,000 customers had settled their benefits themselves using online facilities. These give clients relevant risk warnings and a comprehensive explanation of all their retirement options, it said.

The majority of the 3,000 callers had taken time to consider their retirement options before making any decisions, said the firm. It also said customers had spent an average 30 minutes on the phone before reaching a conclusion.

All callers were made fully aware of the risks associated with accessing their pension pots.

Standard life head of pensions strategy Jamie Jenkins, said: “We are pleased to see so many customers using our new online retirement services but, for some, they want to have a conversation with our experts.

“The length of these conversations is much longer than normal, but we think it is crucial to take the time to ensure that people are making fully informed decisions.

“While it is far too early to draw any definitive trends, as expected, the main focus this week for those with very small pension pots is to understand their options to release cash, and it has been interesting to see the wide variety of reasons people have given – everything from paying off debt to purchasing a speedboat.

“It serves to remind us how varied people’s lives are, and in turn the potential benefit of having more flexible access to their pension savings.”

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