Standard Life says it has experienced an “unprecedented level of customer contact” since the introduction of the pension freedoms this week.
Despite Monday being a Bank Holiday, the provider says it has taken over 3,000 calls so far. In the same time, nearly 1,000 customers used Standard Life’s website to make a decision on how to use their pension pot.
Telephone conversations took an average of around 30 minutes and “some” customers choosing full or partial withdrawal planned to use the cash to pay off debt or invest in property, the firm says. Other reasons for taking cash included poor health, paying for a wedding, and buying a speedboat.
Standard Life head of pensions strategy Jamie Jenkins says: “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.”
Government-backed guidance service Pension Wise has received around 3,600 calls since its call centre opened two weeks ago. Some 1,400 people have booked telephone conversations with The Pensions Advisory Service and 400 have face-to-face appointments with Citizens Advice.
The Government says Pension Wise has capacity for 10,000 appointments a week in April, and over 400,000 appointments a year.