Our Chief Executive explains.
As you would expect, many people join the Forces Pension Society for guidance from our Pensions Experts about their individual pension benefits. But a question I’m frequently asked, is why do Members remain Members for so many years? In this brief article, I will attempt to explain why – and the answer is embedded in our Vision statement:
To enhance Armed Forces Pension clarity for our Members and influence policy, now and for future generations.
Armed Forces Pensions are complex. Often seen primarily as a means of encouraging Service retention, they are now more appropriately designed to meet the needs of a diverse and more savvy generation. The very characteristics that make for outstanding servicemen and women also demand a pension that goes beyond meeting basic needs. Additionally, since April this year, all serving personnel will be members of AFPS 15, meaning there is a uniform pension platform that provides a springboard into civilian life or long-term assurance of a decent living standard.
The Forces Pension Society has been in the vanguard of this evolution, having championed Armed Forces Pensions for more than 75 years, acting as a pension watchdog for the entire military community.
For current Members, there are significant decision points in every Service career. Some are predictable, such as the timing of Early Departure Payments and Resettlement grants; others less so, such as divorce (sadly not uncommon in our community), medical discharge or decisions relating to pension top-ups.
For some, annual allowances and taxation charges require constant monitoring and planning. This is why our Forces Pensions Consultants are always on hand to provide guidance tailored to Members’ individual needs.
Other reasons Members tell us they remain loyal are because they support our successful campaigning activities (such as Justice for Widows and the recent McCloud Case), our representation of their interests on the Public Sector and MoD Pension Boards, (where strength in numbers helps increase our influence), and we keep them informed of developments in the pension environment through our highly informative biannual Newsletters and flagship publication, Pennant.
Our membership also values our work in running Roadshows and Webinars at bases around the country, where we inform and shed light on pension complexity.
These events are attended at one end, by recent entrants to the Services to gain a basic understanding of their Armed Forces Pension; those at their ‘mid-career’ as they assess their options and those towards the latter stages of their career when they and their partners become focussed on their future financial well-being. The Society is there at every step of the way, helping them make the best pension choices.
We are a self-sufficient, independent organisation, sustained by our Members’ subscriptions, free to criticise whenever we find injustice in the system, and to campaign not only on behalf of our Members, but for the wider Armed Forces Community. As many have said to us over the years: “if the Society didn’t exist we’d have to invent it.”
Finally, having spoken about the support we provide at critical stages of Service life there’s another dimension to the Society’s activities. This is our membership benefits programme which is continuously refreshed to meet the needs of our diverse membership. It provides access to products and services (often exclusive to us and usually discounted) ranging from durables (washing machines to cars), insurances (family travel policies to pets), professional services (legal, tax and inheritance planning experts and so on), discounted money transfers, cruises and much more. It’s our way of ensuring our Members get even greater value from their membership subscription.
On reflection, perhaps it’s not so surprising that we retain our Members’ support, year after year. We continue to grow strongly, heading steadily toward 70,000 Members.
Major General Neil Marshall, OBE, Chief Executive