When the pension freedoms were first introduced, I could not help thinking it was a clever device to accelerate the income tax take. Instead of waiting many years to take income tax against modest annuity income payments, the government could grab a larger handful straightaway.
After a couple of years of reflection, I still think this is the case but I recognise the changes have important advantages too.
I suspect many people have changed their view as to what a pension pot is and does. For some, it is no longer about generating a flow of retirement income but more about choosing how and when to use the money that has been accumulated, as little or as much as they want. Freedom and choice has changed the face of pensions.
There are two questions we need to ask: whose money is it and do we trust them with that money?
The chancellor at the time said he did trust people with their pension pots but that turned out to be only partial trust, as he then legislated that anyone with defined benefits or guaranteed pensions valued at over £30,000 would be compelled to take advice.
We should emphasise here that compulsory advice was not something thought up by the financial services sector but driven by politicians.
As to whose money it is, well, it certainly does not belong to me or to the financial services sector. It clearly belongs to the pension pot owner.
We hear stories about people squandering their hard-earned pension money, which was bound to be one of the consequences of the radical change.
A Government select committee is about to investigate the changes and has accumulated a number of horror stories about the things people have done with their pension fund. The worst reported case seems to be someone who gambled away £120,000.
I cannot say I have seen many examples of money being squandered myself but I have seen lots of examples of what I would consider positive spending.
Paying off debt has been quite popular, with lump sums being used to get rid of outstanding mortgages and other loans. I have seen it used to pay education costs for children and grandchildren. Investment in businesses has also cropped up quite frequently.
Some withdrawals have been used to pay for special life events such as travel. One of my clients is using some of his pension fund to visit family in Australia. He recently lost a close family member, which has influenced his decision. And who can blame him?
Of course, the adviser will always consider other sources of money for such things but, where a pension pot is a significant asset, you can see why it might be used this way.
There will always be bad examples but I am pretty convinced the good examples will outweigh them. Sure, taking all of your pension pot and wasting it is not likely to represent good financial planning. But then it is not my money, is it?
Nick Bamford is executive director at Informed Choice