As TPAS celebrates its 30th anniversary chief executive Michelle Cracknell tells Helen Morrissey about her plans for the service.
As The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS) celebrated its 30th anniversary it also welcomed its new chief executive Michelle Cracknell. She inherits a service that has done much to demystify pensions for the general public.
According to 2012/2013 Annual Accounts the TPAS website received over three million hits and the service received 4,500 complaints. Cracknell believes the demand for TPAS service will only grow over the coming years as auto-enrolment continues to roll out.
"I've been advising on pensions and investments for over 25 years and I see that the need for impartial information is huge. I think the service TPAS offers is a great way to set people on the right path," she says.
"Auto-enrolment is a great example. If people are just auto-enrolled then they still won't save enough to give them a decent retirement so there is a real need to engage with people here.
"We did actually get a call recently from someone who had been auto-enrolled and wanted to know if their company was allowed to do that. So you can imagine that once we hit 2014 and 2015 the demand for information is only going to get bigger and the employer is going to need some support."
The service has focused on expanding communication channels with the general public over recent months. In August it launched a webchat tool to enable people with pension queries to speak to experts in real time. This service supplements the existing telephone helpline service and website and brings real efficiencies to the TPAS service according to Cracknell.
"Our telephone helpline is a big part of what we do but we looked to supplement this by launching Webchat in August," she says. "In September I would say we held around 500 webchats so this is a very efficient way of dealing with people as an adviser can have five or six webchats going at any one time."
As well as finding ways to improve the efficiency of the service Cracknell's key objective is to raise TPAS's profile not just among the general public but also with employers and the industry at large.
"We take 60,000 calls a year with approx. 200-300 calls a day but I would like to see more people contacting TPAS and we are looking to be used more across the board by advisers, providers and benefit consultants," she says.
Partner Insight Video: Advisers have had to adapt to the changing investment landscape.
Investment trust savings scheme