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Q&A with business champion for older workers Ros Altmann

(41 Posts)
EmilyGransnet (GNHQ) Thu 11-Sep-14 13:59:07

Ros Altmann is an independent expert and writer on later life issues – particularly with respect to pension policy, savings, investment, annuities, retirement and social care funding.

She has recently been appointed as the Government’s Business Champion for Older Workers. She is an economist by training and worked in fund management in the City for many years, as well as advising Governments, regulators, industry bodies, corporates, financial firms, trustees and consumer groups on all areas of pensions, from state pension policy, to private pension developments and investment management of pension funds.

From 2010 to 2013 she was Director-General of over 50s’ specialist Saga Group. She has devoted much of her career to highlighting financial injustice, helping ordinary members of the public pro bono and explaining complex financial or economic issues for the layperson.

She is highly regarded as a consumer champion speaks up for ordinary people against powerful vested interests.

Ros has won numerous industry and media awards, including Pensions Personality of the Year (twice), Industry Guru of the Year, Women in Public Life Award, The Times ‘Business Bigshot’ and was one of the UKs top 50 Most Influential People in Pensions in 2013 according to Pensions Insight.

In 2014 Ros was awarded the honour of Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in recognition of her services to pensioners and pension provision.

In her new role as Older Workers Business Champion Ros will be promoting the benefits both to individuals and businesses of people enjoying more flexible working hours as well as working longer in general. Key to this is understanding the new challenges posed by us all living longer more healthy and active lives.

For example: as it stands the average length of time spent in retirement has gone up from approx. 10 years in the 1950s based on a life expectancy of 75 to 24 years now based on a life expectancy of 87.

Ros also blogs at

Please post your questions on retirement, working longer, flexible
working and pensions. The thread will close on September 22nd.

durhamjen Thu 11-Sep-14 18:24:32

What do you think of the government changing the rules for pension pots?
Do you think pensioners to be will miss out?

Starling Thu 11-Sep-14 23:55:04

Hello Ros Altmann - Could you please tell us what action the government is taking to increase employment of people aged over 50 and under state retirement age?

vert Fri 12-Sep-14 11:39:51

Good independent financial advice is becoming more critical for those of us with small pension pots as options increase. In my experience financial advisers are not too interested in this market or charge a lot proportionate to the amount involved. Where is the best place to go to find an adviser I can trust
In your opinion should people retiring this year who can do without the income wait until after April next year for more potential rule changes

nannalyn53 Fri 12-Sep-14 11:58:05

I've been told that if I defer taking my state pension by (for example)a year, I would receive 10% extra when I do start taking it. Is this correct? And how do I work out whether this is worth doing or not, as of course I would forego receiving a year's pension payments.
Many thanks.

Notagran123 Fri 12-Sep-14 15:50:32

I am in the same position as Starling. I am 60 and have worked since I was 16. I gave up my last job a year ago because it involved a lot of lifting. I can't claim unemployment benefit because my savings are over the limit. I am living off my savings and won't get my state pension for another 5 years. With so many young people who have never worked wouldn't it make more sense for people of my age to be able to retire to free up jobs for the young? If M.P.s had to do a 'real' day's work, they would not have reached such an unfair decision as to increase the retiremant age.

Grandmama Fri 12-Sep-14 18:20:59

I retired in Dec 2013 and haven't done anything about the small pension from the part-time job I had for 23 years - there was a pension scheme only for the last few years I was there. It's just over £5000. I had hoped to draw it as a lump sum to use for house repairs and maintenance but together with my teacher's pension from the 1970s (from which I receive a monthly sum) it came to over £18000 so I couldn't withdraw it. Can I withdraw it now - or next April? I could do with it. I am 66 and so drawing a state pension.

Thanks in anticipation for your advice.

Nansypansy Fri 12-Sep-14 20:06:30

I have an Aviva Income Bond which I took out in 2007 for £50k. This was to give an extra £300+ a month to boost my pension. Is this the best thing I could have done? I know it's reducing all the time, but is there anything better I could do with the remaining capital? Thanks in advance for your response.

Possiejim Sat 13-Sep-14 14:33:55

Dear Ros Altman , I am sure you are aware of the immoral practice of this and all past UK Governments freezing the pensions of of such a small group of its pensioners. We comprise only a penalised 4% of the 12 million pensioners and include over 1000 stuck in such countries as Zimbabwe.
I note a recent article in the Times, identified 5 reasons this Government practice has to cease;-

Sir Roger Gale with Dame Ann Begg and Sir Peter Bottomley have established an All Party Parliamentary Group APPG to investigate the issue and endeavour to have this offending, unfair regulation repealed.

How might you help us publicise to the British public our fight for justice please? The Government's attitude is very shortsighted, for it's discouraging thousands of black and ethnic minority people from retiring back to their cultural homelands, which would save £billions in NH services winter power subsidies etc.

This article below was written in YourMoney magazine, after I gave a presentation at a pensions conference in London at end May this year. The author, Lawrence Gosling, found it very difficult to comprehend that the British government has these draconian rules leveled at such a small group of its pensioners especially we now know that the Government spent $11.4 billions on foreign aid this year.

neena Mon 22-Sep-14 11:14:19

Hello Ros,

Could you tell me what you think about whether retirees should defer their state pensions (to increase their value) and whether you advocate this?

Also, I am thinking of moving abroad when I am due to retire in 2016 (as a teacher) but am confused about what my rights are in terms of transferring my pension abroad or whether I have to take it in one lump sum. What do you recommend for pensioners living abroad (I would be moving to the South of France).

Thanks very much and congratulations on your appointment as the Older Workers Business Champion!


Daisydo Mon 22-Sep-14 11:31:29

Hello Ros

My husband and I are in our early 50s and both working. We both work for small organisations who do not offer employee pension schemes. I have a pension pot from a previous employer which I paid into for a decade (but obviously don't pay into any more) and that's it. We have been put off making private provision after waves of publicity saying its not worth the while. But now, with ten to fifteen years left (max) of working we are starting to panic and would value any advice you can offer.

Many thanks


papajoe Mon 22-Sep-14 11:34:26

There's been much made of rights to flexible working in the last few months - but I am still not convinced about the reality. All we have is the right to ask - which means nothing and for older workers like myself we are often worried about rocking the boat as it is so hard to get new jobs at our age. But it would make a big difference to me so can you advise me on the best and most constructive way to approach an employer a) in terms of getting a result and b) in terms of not damaging the relationship. Thank you in advance

annamay Mon 22-Sep-14 12:31:00

Hi Ros, thanks for coming on the site today. I am 56 years old and have been made redundant recently. I am a widow, so money was tight before my redundancy and now the prospect of going for a long period without a job is keeping me up at night. I find that I lose out on opportunities because I'm not terribly good at job searching online, filling in the forms, registering for umpteen different sites. I cant find jobs on the internet the way my daughters can but they are no longer living with me and I can't ask them to spend their lives searching for a job for me. I feel that older people are being let downb by the way that everything is now online. I look in my local papers and see nothing in my field.

My question is - what is being done to ensure that jobs are also open to those who are not online/not very good (me!) at the internet thing? We seem to be missing out on so much there is a library near me but only a couple of compouters and no classes i could take.

sheilam10 Mon 22-Sep-14 12:33:40

I am interested to read the figures of how long retirement is likely to last these days (ie over double) but it worries me - for those of us of a certain age the provisions were the same as they ever were but we are expected to make it last over a decade longer. What can we (who are already in/approaching our 60s) do? And what should the government be doing to make things better for our children/GC when they reach this age?

Charleygirl Mon 22-Sep-14 12:38:58

In financial terms April 2015 is quite close but still the Government has not issued any detail (as far as I am aware) about withdrawing money next April, rather than taking out an annuity. Have you seen any details?

How much can one withdraw before tax is claimed by HMRC? Does the amount of tax paid be dependant on one's pension (s) paid at present?

Also if there is an avalanche of money going out, will companies be allowed to charge what they like for the privilege of us taking our own money?

Thank you

ambertoby Mon 22-Sep-14 12:47:02

Hullo, what do you think is the most valuable piece of advice I can give my grandchildren in terms of providing for their own futures and the pensions of the future


nannymoocow Mon 22-Sep-14 13:38:48

Hello Ros, I took early retirement earlier this year as I could not face getting up at 3am to get to work after my employer had a change of hours review. I felt I was being pushed out because of my age (60). I too am living off my savings and a very small pension. I had hoped to claim job seekers allowance, but after a chat with the job centre, realised this was going to be too stressful so withdrew. When I started work I was on track to get my state pension at 60, now the goalposts have been moved twice and it is now 65+ . Yet I see friends only slightly older already getting theirs, this is so unfair. I have worked, brought up a family and would like to know your views on how this has been handled and if you think we should be entitled to some form of help.

RobbieD Mon 22-Sep-14 13:44:38

Ros - If you had a pension pot of £100,000 what would YOU do with it? (I sincerely hope you have more than that in reality, as you are worth your weight in gold!).

I know we have to be careful with regard to the amount of tax incurred, so taking the whole lot is not an option, but I, like many others, would like some suggestions as to investments - ranging from the pathetic ISAs to somewhat risky options.


CariGransnet (GNHQ) Mon 22-Sep-14 13:55:10

Many thanks all for your questions. We are sending them to Ros shortly and will post her answers as soon as we get them

HollyDaze Mon 22-Sep-14 13:58:36

Good post nannymoocow - there are, I'm sure, quite a few of us in that bracket; it will be interesting to any response that may help.

Maggiemaybe Mon 22-Sep-14 18:50:23

Hello Ros, and thanks for putting yourself on the line! My husband is retiring at 65 in January and I have just been made redundant but given access to my small local government pension - I am 60 in January, so can't access my state pension till I'm 66 angry. We each have several small pension pots and are being deluged by leaflets and forms from every company holding them, asking what our preferred options are and offering their expert advice and help as to what to do with our money and the rest of our lives. Pretty rich from some of them, particularly the one that took over a £2000 investment in 1998 and has used its expertise to turn it into£600! Like others who have posted, we need advice, but where to turn, and how to avoid wasting what little we have on IFA fees? Someone told me today that the government has committed to providing independent advice for anyone needing it in the current period of change - is this true, and if so, how do we access it please?

durhamjen Mon 22-Sep-14 19:25:59

Did Gordon Brown rip off pensioners?
How does what he did compare to what the chancellor is going to do?

durhamjen Sun 28-Sep-14 23:48:28

Does today's news about pensions from the Conservative Conference make any difference to any of these questions.
Ros Altmann was discussing it on the news.

RosAltmann Tue 14-Oct-14 10:08:11


What do you think of the government changing the rules for pension pots?
Do you think pensioners to be will miss out?

I truly believe the changes to pensions that have been announced will mean we have a much better pension system than before. The freedom and flexibility are really welcome changes and, in future, people will be trusted to spend their pension fund as it suits them best, rather than being forced to buy financial products they may not have wanted or needed, or were not suitable for them. I think there is a risk that some people will lose out, particularly if they do not get good guidance or proper financial advice to help them plan their retirement income. Those who have already bought annuities will be unlikely to benefit from the new reforms of course, but those in income draw-down or who have not yet taken their pension money will have a chance to do better in future. Finally, this latest announcement of being able to pass on any unused pension funds free of all tax to the next generation is brilliant news – it could even help fund your grandchildren’s future pensions, that would be idea, but your pension fund, if necessary could even perhaps help with their first house or their education.

RosAltmann Tue 14-Oct-14 10:10:50


Hello Ros Altmann - Could you please tell us what action the government is taking to increase employment of people aged over 50 and under state retirement age?

The Government recently introduced the right for all workers to request flexible working, which could help more over 50s stay at work, while combining part time work with looking after grandchildren or older loved ones part of the time. Some Job Centres are looking at specific help for over 50s in terms of training and jobs fairs. In addition, the Government has asked me to fulfil this role of Champion for Older Workers and engage with Businesses to try to find more ways of helping older people stay in employment – or even self employment. I hope that I will be able to get the debate going and make the case to companies that employing over 50s can bring big business benefits, and that older workers have some unique skills and experience to bring to the workforce.