Cooke, who initiated the petition which led to the planned legislation, says the pension industry should be primed and ready for an awareness campaign to coincide with the commencement of the ban, with the clear consumer message - if someone cold calls about pensions or investments it is definitely a scam.
“The best way to beat the scammers is to give them no marketplace. If they are picking up the phone and nobody is saying ‘yes’ then we put them out of business,” he said.
Cooke is aware that scammers are already moving offshore to countries such as South Africa and Cyprus – which he notes has many English speaking ex-pats as a potential workforce.
Yet he feels that some critics may be underestimating the power of the message – previously it might have been a scammer – now it definitely will be.
“It is going to be about awareness,” he said. “The best thing that a cold calling ban does is give the public the message that a cold call is a scam. No reputable firm will call you cold about pensions or investments.
“The ban draws that line in the sand. It is a crucial differential between ‘they might be a scammer or are probably a scammer’ and ’they are a scammer, hang up!’”
Cooke said challenges will certainly remain, for example, you can easily make it look as if a UK number is from overseas. At the same time he is heartened by the way policymakers are now alive to scammers, with legislation in the pipeline to cut off the SSAS and QROPs routes given evidence the scam operations were shifting emphasis from SIPPs to these types of plans.
He believes it is in the pension industry’s interests to stump up some cash for an awareness campaign hopefully to match that provided by government. Apart from the reputational benefit, they may retain money rather than seeing it swiped away into illegitimate investments and voiding this would probably more than pay for any contribution made by the big pension firms.
As an owner manager of an advice firm, Cooke is unsure if it needs a television campaign. However he said it is important that marketing experts consider how to reach people beyond the readers of the financial and money pages and consider how to reach the Coronation Street and Britain’s Got Talent audiences.
He suggests it needs to target the 45 to 65 age audience. This is because a lot of the debate focuses on the retired, but generally that is not the scammers’ target audience.
“The ideal time to launch an awareness campaign is when the law comes into force,” he added.