Social networking site Twitter has yet another fan, this time in the form of Dawid Konotey-Ahulu, the founder of pensions adviser Redington. Konotey-Ahulu has urged the pensions industry to start using social media to share ideas. In an article called Telling It Like It Is; The New Reality, posted online today by Financial News, Konotey-Ahulu says the lack of blogs from pension fund officials and investment consultants is a ‘crying shame’.
Konotey-Ahulu writes: "It strikes me that there are hundreds of participants in the pensions and insurance industry who could benefit from using social media platforms…I hear so much wisdom from that “crowd” on my travels and very little of it makes its way onto the stage."
However he admits that the Twitter interface, requiring updates to be confined to 140 characters put him off at first. It’s a common complaint, but something that Konotey-Ahulu has since come to embrace as it requires ‘Tweeters’ to distil their complex ideas into easy-to-understand bite-size chunks. In his own words…
"There are thousands of ordinary individuals out there who, between them, sift through thousands of articles, have myriad conversations with other people, and assimilate acres of information. Then they choose the best of the lot. They pore over information, distill the very best (in their own view, admittedly) and then serve it up for you on the plate that is Twitter.
"If you happen to follow those individuals, you have access to their condensed and distilled wisdom. In other words, Twitter aggregates relevant, useful information for you on just about every topic – around the clock. The crucial difference between Twitter and Google, is that Twitter is unnervingly real time, in a very different way to a search engine. They’re calling Twitter the super fresh web."
Self-styled "Pensionsguru", Steve Bee, is similarly enthusiastic. The fact that his Twitter moniker was still available to him, despite his relatively late entry to the world of Twitter, is, he points out, instructive – it seems the pensions industry is somewhat behind the curve in embracing new forms of communication. But with the next generation of pension savers learning about personal finance through the national curriculum, and highly literate in social media, he argues, "our future legislators and civil servants will come into the workforce trained up on Twitter, too. That could bring enormous advantages with it to our future pension legislation."
The rate with which defined benefit pension schemes are being closed appears to have escalated from a drip-drip to a gushing torrent in recent weeks. It seems that firms are taking advantage of the announcements made by their peers to wheel out their own reforms. This pushes the design of defined contribution plans to the fore. If we are to avoid another pensions crisis we need to wake employees up to the fact that the responsibility for a comfortable retirement is now up to them. We need fresh ideas, and perhaps Konotey-Ahulu is right to point to social media as the best forum for sharing these.
Can you recommend any pension-focused social media sites? Let Penrose know at: firstname.lastname@example.org