It has been well over a year since our first national lockdown and life has changed considerably for many pension scheme members since then.
For all of us in the industry, in times of uncertainty it is even more important than ever to engage and communicate effectively with members. It’s a two-way process, one in which we have to put ourselves in the members’ shoes and challenge existing industry norms.
For example, it always confuses me why there is such a separation between the way we think about saving money in everyday life and how we think about saving for retirement. Is it because you can’t visualise retirement, or the fact you can’t access your pension savings until you’re 55?
Perhaps both, but there’s so much we can do to bridge this gap.
At Smart Pension, we’ve recently made a point of ditching the jargon. Our in-house communications style guide has been tested with real scheme members to make sure that it’s as effective and useful as it can be. It means we write communications that our members can understand, rather than what we think they can understand.
Here’s an example – we recently tested common investment phrases such as ‘lifestyle strategy’ and ‘lifecycle strategy’. Both terms would be familiar to anyone who works in the pension business, and yet both tested poorly with our members. We decided to use ‘investment strategy’ instead, as it does what it says on the tin. Even small learnings like these are important because they help us to develop a better relationship with our members.
We’ve also proactively helped our members to better understand how their Smart Pension account works. For example, we’ve recently launched our member webinar series and communicated with members to let them know. The first in the series covered a range of topics, including sustainability, our simplified annual pension statement and common pension basics topics. Again, we believe that the more you focus on clarity when communicating with members, the better they’ll understand the benefits of saving and, in turn, the better we’ll understand their behaviour.
Covid-19 has undoubtedly accelerated the trend towards digital transformation and increased everyone’s dependence on technology. Yet traditional pension providers often shy away from the use of technology when trying to engage with members. At Smart Pension, technology is at the heart of everything we do and enriches our members’ experience with us. As early adopters of the simplified annual pension statement, we’re always keen to explore new ways to better engage our members.
Our Innovation Team is constantly testing new beta features with our members, with the aim of making pensions seem a little less dry and technical. A recent example is our animated pension walkthrough which has had some really positive feedback.
We believe that innovative features like these break down crucial barriers with members, who expect content to be delivered in an easily-understood way.
So that we can meet the needs of both current and future members, we need to continually review whether we’re doing enough for them and whether what we do is still fit for purpose. It’s an ongoing process, and one that takes time, but it’s through questioning existing barriers that the industry can make meaningful changes.