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We’re not in Kansas any more…

“The megalodon was comforting the Tyrannosaurus rex, following an unfortunate incident in which one of its teeth became loose and started to hurt. The inability of the T. rex to eat its otherwise attractive prey was generating an unusual harmony between the two monsters.”

At least that’s what I told my 5 year old dinosaur-loving nephew in an attempt to induce sleep while we were babysitting for the boys one day. He used to wholly accept this level of make-believe, but things have changed a little since I last saw him and I was frequently corrected on points of detail (it turns out megalodon was a shark so it was unlikely to have been wandering about the desert).

To be fair though he’d not long finished telling me that his brother, Angus, was becoming renowned for his motor racing, in which he frequently achieved speeds of  “ten million thousand and eight miles an hour.” I doubted this was true, partly because that’s unrealistically fast, but also because Angus is only nine months old.

Angus has changed too since I last saw him. I guess (real) parents notice that less as the change in any child is slowly incremental. I only see him from time to time so the gap makes the changes seem so much more distinct.

Some things change dramatically, constantly evolving in order to remain current. Technology is a great example, of course. My Sinclair Spectrum looks somewhat dated, compared to the iPad I’m writing this on. In fact, the Internet was largely a mythological tale when I first played Manic Miner, following hours of failed attempts to successfully load the gaming data from my ageing tape recorder.

And look up Walter de Brouwer, who’s currently working on his latest invention, the Scanadu Scout. It’s a two-inch round device that checks everything from your pulse to your blood’s oxygen content – and various potential ailments – simply by pinching it with two fingers and placing it against a temple. He’s taking orders now…

But some great things enjoy a successful reputation for staying broadly the same; digestive biscuits, baked beans, mars bars all being pretty good examples. The product evolves, but the marketing relies on an enduring consistency.

One constant in my life is Oliver Kru who, oddly, seems to be the co-pilot on every flight I take.

My point? Our industry – particularly the savings industry – is going through unprecedented change. In workplace saving, there’s a growing recognition that we’re entering a very different marketplace; one where the customers (employees being automatically enrolled) are not the buyers. So it’s unlikely it will behave like a ‘normal’ market. And therefore we need to ensure that customers’ interests remain protected as they would in any normal market.

But how do we do this? This question is creating a lot of debate, change and uncertainty in the workplace savings market. I’ve written before about the cluttered road of pensions and the need to focus on the things that lead to good outcomes. To protect customer’s interests we need to ensure contributions are sufficient, investments are appropriate, service is good, charges are competitive and good retirement decisions are made.

Good advice, focused on good outcomes is going to be key to navigating through this changing landscape.

Anyway, I need to stop typing as we’re about to take off and the captain’s started addressing us; “…a warm welcome from me and Oliver Kru.” (he’s here again).

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