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Pension Wise evaluation 2018/19: experiences and outcomes

Evidence type: Evaluation i

Description of the programme:

Pension Wise is a national government-backed pensions guidance service delivered in partnership with other organisations. The service provides free, impartial information and guidance to those who are aged 50 and over, and have defined contribution pensions that they have not yet started to drawdown. The service offers guidance through three channels:

  • Face-to-face appointments delivered through Citizens Advice;
  • Telephone appointments, delivered mainly through The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS), as well as Teleperformance in England and Wales and Citizens Advice in Scotland;
  • Digital, self-serve guidance offered through the Pension Wise website.

In 2018/19, there were 90,000 face-to-face appointments and almost 40,000 telephone appointments delivered. Compared to 2017/18, face-to-face appointments had increased by 43 per cent and telephone appointments were up by 63 per cent. There were also around 2.3 million website visits in 2018/19, with just over 37,000 people completing the digital self-serve guidance on the website during this period. This was the first full year that this service was available.

The study:

Pension Wise commissioned Ipsos Mori to conduct an evaluation of their service for the 2018/19 period. The findings are taken from five quantitative surveys. Two initial surveys, approximately one month after using the service, explored users’ experiences and satisfaction with Pension Wise. These included:

  • 1,763 people who booked face-to-face or telephone appointments between September and November 2018;
  • 703 clients who accessed the digital self-serve guidance on the Pensions Wise website between August 2018 and February 2019.

Two follow up surveys were conducted, focusing on the client’s knowledge of their pensions options. The interviews took place with the same respondents from the first two surveys and were about three months after their interaction with Pension Wise. The two surveys included:

  • 681 face-to-face and telephone appointment clients who took part in survey 1;
  • 291 digital self-serve clients who completed survey 2.

A final survey was conducted among two comparison groups who did not have a Pension Wise appointment but would have been eligible in the past 12 months, this included:

  • 973 people eligible for Pension Wise, some who had visited the Pension Wise website (231) and some who had not (760 non-users).

This research follows two studies that Ipsos MORI carried out to evaluate the Pension Wise service in 2016/17 and 2017/18.

Key findings:

  • More than nine-in-ten Pension Wise ‘appointment clients’ (93%) were very or fairly satisfied with their overall experience, while 78% of digital self-serve internet clients felt the same way.
  • There were very low levels of dissatisfaction, with only 3% of appoint clients and 7% of self-serve clients reporting being dissatisfied.
  • Almost all clients (95%) had already recommended, or were very or fairly likely to recommend Pension Wise, as were 87% of self-serve web clients.
  • Around a quarter of appointment clients (24%) said they had already recommended Pension Wise to others, within one month of accessing the service.
  • Most appointment clients (95%) reported feeling ‘very or fairly well informed’ with their pension options, as did 83% of self-serve clients. Among the non-users (or the control group) this figure was only 57%.
  • Most appointment clients and self-serve clients (95%) reported feeling ‘very or fairly confident’ in their ability to avoid pension scams, compared to 83% of non-users.
  • All client types are substantially more likely than non-users to know that:
    • You do not have to withdraw your pension immediately on retiring (80% of appointment clients and 70% of self-serve clients, compared to just 60% of non-users;
    • Buying an annuity is optional (75%; 65% and 49% of non-users);
    • Pension pots can be transferred across providers (73% and 61%, compared to 40% of non-users.
  • All users improved in their ability to calculate their income needed in retirement, read more information about their pension options, and more spoke to their pension provider about their options.
  • The report states that while the self-serve channel is working well, the scores are consistently lower than through the appointment channels. Pension Wise intended to improve this service in 2019/20.

Points to consider:

Methodological strengths and limitations:

  • This evaluation uses a range of robust data collection and analysis methods as well as a quasi-control group.


  • These findings are based on findings from weighted samples in the UK and should be relevant to the UK pensions advice landscape in general.

Generalisability/ transferability:

  • The evaluation is of significant interest to stakeholders, policymakers and other parties concerned with the provision of pension advice.

Key info

Activities and setting
Pension Wise is a service that offers pensions guidance through face-to-face and telephone appointments. Since 2017, Pension Wise has also offered a digital guidance option.
Programme delivered by
Pension Wise, Citizens Advice, TPAS, The Pensions Service
Year of publication
Contact information

Theebika Shanmugarasa, Katie Hughes and Jayesh Navin ShahPension WiseIpsos Mori