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Highlighting the dangers of pensions liberation to consumers
Pensions Liberation was becoming a major issue within the pensions industry, whereby ‘liberation companies’ were targeting consumers before retirement to persuade them to ‘liberate’ their pensions early, without explaining potential tax implications that could severely reduce their pension pots.
Lansons’ advice was for Phoenix to take a decisive stance to highlight the issue and the dangers to consumers through the media and to use figures to illustrate the full scope of the problem to the media.
Using data produced by Phoenix’s crime team, Lansons produced a press release to drive awareness of the issue and Phoenix’s activity to protect consumers, whilst highlighting that Phoenix makes it easy for customers to transfer a policy to a legitimate fund quickly.
Using the release as a basis for discussion, Lansons approached a targeted list of pensions commentators and national journalists to reach consumers, advisers, regulators and the rest of the industry. We also ensured it was included in all relevant journalist briefings during that time period.
12 pieces of media coverage, including The Times, The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph and the Mail on Sunday positioned Phoenix as a leading voice in the argument for better protection for consumers. Phoenix’s figures were also cited by Martin Wheatley, CEO of the FCA, when highlighting the issue in a key speech.
The figures have continued to appear in articles whenever the issue was raised. The number of pensions liberation incidences has dramatically dropped since the legislation Phoenix called for in June was introduced, Steve Hyndman, spokesperson for the campaign, took home a Thomson Reuters award for his work on the issue.
“The media coverage was key in both alerting consumers to the dangers of pensions liberation, and illustrating the action Phoenix takes to protect our customers. The success of the campaign came from the speed with which we were able to get our perspective on Pensions Liberation to the right journalists and the quality of the information we were providing – from charts demonstrating the growth and expert comment to views from people within the business .”
Shellie Wells, head of media relations at Phoenix Group