The third session of Pension Insight's Pensions Communications Forum looks at how pensions communications are happening practically


Case study: United Utilities – getting the basics right with an engaging print and online campaign

Steven Robson, head of pensions, United Utilities

United Utilities double match their employees’ pension contributions – with a 5% starting contribution from employees. All employees get this on joining the company, and get basic enrolment information and an instructive video to help them understand the benefit.

“We do simple and basic communications only using phrases and language that individuals use,” Steven Robson, head of pensions, told the audience. “And as well as team briefs, we do face-to-face comms wherever possible.”

Alongside posters and videos, the annual employee benefit statement also gives the staff the value of their pension pot and their estimated retirement income.

The aim is to get all staff to understand what they need to do, what their choices are, and what will happen if they don’t want to make a choice and are defaulted.

The communications are segmented according to age group:

  • Up to 50 – comms encourage people to contribute
  • At 50 – comms explain what employees’ savings value is, what their options are, and how the decumulation phase will work. They have the option to change their glide path at this stage and discuss their retirement options.
  • At-retirement – comms examine what happens next and what employees should do as their next steps

The result, says Robson, is “an engaged, happy workforce – with 97% of employees contributing at least 5.5%.”

What can we learn from consumer marketing when communicating pensions?

Nigel Ferrier, executive chairman, Ferrier Pearce

“Pensions members are consumers. That’s why the industry has to absolutely apply consumer marketing,” insisted Nigel Ferrier, executive chairman, Ferrier Pearce.

Over the past twelve months, the purchase of desktop and laptop computers has plateaued, while there has been a huge growth in smartphones and tablets. Meanwhile the use of phones for making calls has also dropped: “It’s more like a computer in your pocket,” commented Ferrier.

Ferrier discussed the importance of communications engaging members to ensure that in terms of saving money, their DC schemes can compete with the rest of their household budgeting and savings.

There is no scarcity of information – but rather of attention. In fact, members have an information overload, and the key is to make that information relevant.

“You need to create a persona for your audience – tap into their aspirations and build an individual picture of them to know exactly what is relevant to them in terms of the when, where and how of comms,” said Ferrier.

Equally, gamification is becoming hugely popular – but it must be unique, targeted to the market, interacting seamlessly across social media and offering meaningful reward to users.

So what should the pensions industry’s targets be over 2016? Communications, said Ferrier, must be data-driven and optimised for usage – and above all, personalised.

Case study: LV= – gamifying pensions with Pension Pilot and the LV= Pensions Village

Peter Strudwick, pension & benefits partner, LV=


LV= are always looking for innovative ways to conduct business – and similarly, looking for innovation in communication with their pension members, explained Peter Strudwick, pension & benefits partner.

To this end, the company has introduced gamification in their pension comms, using the huge gaming industry to hook, engage and reward their scheme members.

Pensions Pilot, a part of LV=’s Pensions Village, allows members to play either on a website or mobile phone, with the aim of adding interaction to their scheme and contributions, and then attracting employees and getting them to keep coming back to the site.

The key messages of the game explain the double matching contribution system of the employer, and also demonstrate the importance of contributing sooner rather than later.

With website usage up by 51%, and annual statements views up by 11%, the game has been successful – and the constant change to Pensions Pilot’s leaderboard indicates lots of usage.

Strudwick said that the company would not be resting on their laurels, however: “We will keep updating the game – innovation makes it interesting for the users!”