The final session of Pension Insight's Pensions Communications Forum looks at how the industry can help members effectively achieve their aims


Case study: Environment Agency Pension Fund – Measuring and enhancing communication effectiveness

Craig Martinu/i>, pensions manager, Environment Agency Pension Fund


Like many pension schemes, the Environment Agency Pension Fund is raising awareness about its pension through engaging members through effective communications – however, Craig Martinu pensions manager, explained that they have set the ambitious goal of having 73% of members registered on their website.

With legacy defined benefit members, ordinarily the scheme would see maximum engagement around their key life events – but Martinuis now encouraging them to engage further on a general basis.

The fund is achieving this through digital strategy objectives including increasing segmentation and relevance – but also, said Martinu“We analyse what we do right and wrong, and what we can do better in communications.”

Website analytics have been a source of key data on what strategies are increasing engagement, and how people want to receive their information.

While the website is consistently popular, perhaps surprisingly DB members have also expressed a desire for paper communications – especially when paired with an email follow-up.

Consequently, said Martinu “Importance has also been placed on member surveys and focus groups. Webinars, too, have been useful for both education and also answering direct questions from members.”

The key has been constant analysis, review and innovation.


Case study: Tesco – Delivering a comprehensive engagement strategy in the private sector

Ruston Smith, group pensions director, Tesco


“What matters when it comes to communications?” Ruston Smith, group pensions director, asked the audience. “Jargon is one of the greatest barriers – it’s about keeping it simple – having a normal conversation about saving for retirement.”

To Smith, keeping it short, simple and talking about what matters with a great look and feel helps compete with the huge volume of communications we get from every angle.  We have a huge responsibility to help people make the right choices – and to appreciate people’s busy lives and other financial priorities which compete with saving for retirement.

With the company’s DB scheme closing last year, communications became key to explain to employees what the changes would be, why they were happening, and what they would mean to employees.

The outcome was positive - even more staff chose to save through their newly launched Retirement Savings Plan – which is available to all regardless of the hours employees work or their length of service.

“We aimed to make communication jargon-free, honest, and personalised,” explained Smith, “Engaging as many employees as possible by using multiple channels.”

A single-sign on channel, the Colleague Room, now allows employees to see all their benefits in a one-stop shop and get all the information they need.

As a result, 100,000 people have chosen to register on the Colleague Room, and 220,000 have been enrolled into the new plan. Most positively, 30,000 members increased their contributions in the first month of the plan.

“We all have an important responsibility to savers,” commented Smith. “It’s about real people, real lives – and real consequences. We can make a fantastic difference to what really matters. There is a real passion for pensions.”


Making DC better: what we’ve learned so far and what that means for the future

Hannah Lewis, director, Behave London


It’s not just about the practicalities – we also have to take action based on behavioural insights. This was the closing message from Hannah Lewis, director, Behave London – who told the audience they weren’t communicating badly enough!

Recent data from TPAS has revealed that people in their later years are (unsurprisingly) the most engaged – but worryingly, the average age for calls to TPAS is 57: people are leaving it very late, and then asking about the possibility of taking an immediate cash-free lump sum.

Lewis commented, “Often communications are badly-written letters: long, jargon-filled and incomprehensible.”

However, she went on to explain that while this will encourage skim-reading and a lack of understanding, a really badly-written, incorrect letter would be more likely to make people stop, reread and take action – if only to complain about the inaccuracy.

Of course, this is not what Lewis encouraged the audience to do: however, the message is clear – you might think you’re communicating well because you’re not getting questions. In reality, you may just have sent your employees or members a jargon-filled document that they didn’t stop to question – they just filed and ignored.