Pensions are complex financial products, as if intentionally designed to be so complex that we just hand over our money to pension funds and don’t ask what next. It used to be the case before the financial meltdown that many people had no idea what was going on with their pension money. Not the case anymore, as sadly so many lost their life savings, and pension fund managers’ reckless investment choices and abundant reward schemes came into a limelight.
Like so many people now, I do manage my pension online, to ensure that it’s invested in line with my risk preferences and in the funds that I consider appropriate. I took a more proactive approach after I noticed that my ‘fund manager’ was losing my money through high risk investments (while charging me a fee for their services).
I however never considered that my money may be invested into activities which I would not approve of, eg tar sand oil extracting companies. Or oil companies drilling in the Arctic. Or weapon makers. Or forest destructing manufacturers. Or other companies which are contributing to the destruction of our planet, human lives and not doing much about it as long as profits are there.
Do you know where your pension fund invests your money? Who is actually on the receiving end? Have you ensured that this investment strategy reflects your life values, not just financial preferences?
Push Your Parents is an amazing example of an activist campaign bringing financial industry and the impact of their actions once again into a limelight and taking a personal angle on the negative impact. I like how they took a problem and put a spin on it with a message that will appeal to every parent.
Using the campaign’s templates, I’ve emailed my pension fund already asking where exactly they are investing my pension. No answer back, unsurprisingly. They are so ‘customer centric’ that I don’t expect much. Pension funds were doing their thing quietly in the corner for so long that it’s taken them by surprise that their customers may actually want to know where their money goes.
Answer or not, I aim to educate myself on this further, to bring my investment choices in line with my values. Yes, you want economic value but not at the price of the future. And if the financial services industry is too short sighted to care, then it’s up to me, to us, to make sure we think for the future.
It’s pension management 2.0 in my case :)