Fighting the good fight – the war against pension scammers

Margaret Snowdon highlights that the real big change she has seen is the computerisation of the industry

It was a great pleasure to hold our latest Smart Pension Connect ‘a conversation with’ webinar with industry expert and legend Margaret Snowdon OBE. Margaret is someone who needs no introduction and has personally spearheaded a lot of the industry’s responses to the worrying trend of pension scams. Perhaps it is time that the OBE is upgraded?

We talked about how the industry has evolved, with Margaret highlighting that the real big change she has seen through her career is the computerisation of the industry. Margaret commented on the lack of innovation and thought that some of the key challenges going forward were around how we can drag pensions into the modern era by making better use of technology, and using that as a platform to innovate and deliver better service and outcomes. She thought that providers were hindered by reliance on patched together legacy systems which act as a barrier to improving standards and really delivering for members.

We spoke about scams. The history, current trends, and initiatives to tackle the scammers. Much has been done, but there is still a lot to do, and while Margaret welcomed recent legislation to help prevent scams she stressed that it needs to be used and acted on, and certainly thought that the battle isn’t yet won. She highlighted the dangers of people taking money out of the pensions environment into scam products and thought in some government quarters that there needed to be a change of mindset as people who are scammed are victims and not, in the main, trying to cheat the system.

Finally, we touched briefly on pensions dashboards (we were already well over time by this point). Margaret is clearly a dashboard fan and thinks that the interconnectivity and transparency that the dashboard will bring will only be a good thing. I’ll certainly raise a glass to that!

As we do with all our guests, Margaret was kind enough to answer our quick-fire questions. In terms of career development, Margaret quickly highlighted the importance of mentoring people to help shape their careers. She also thought that there needed to be more distinction in the media between fact and opinion as the lines had become increasingly blurred in recent times, contributing to some of the issues we are currently seeing in our society. Finally, if Margaret had her time again she would want to be a GP, which surprised me….

Thanks to Margaret for being a good sport and for joining us to share her experience and insight. 

You can watch previous ‘a conversation with’ webinars here, including an excellent discussion about communications and responsible investment with Quietroom’s Caroline Hopper. Next up, with COP26 just around the corner, we will be picking up the conversation on better investing where I’ll be joined by Tony Burdon from the Make My Money Matter campaign. Watch out for that one as it will be another cracker.

About Smart Pension

Launched in 2015, Smart Pension exceeds £5bn in assets under management (AUM) and now serves over one million members and more than 70,000 employers. It is powered by Keystone, Smart’s global savings and investments technology platform.

Aquiline Capital Partners, Barclays, Chrysalis Investments, DWS Group, Fidelity International Strategic Ventures, J.P. Morgan, Legal & General Investment Management, Link Group and Natixis Investment Managers are all investors in Smart Pension.