Close Brothers tell Reward about their excitement after winning Best Financial Education Provider at the Very Important Benefit Awards (VIBs).

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Close Brothers win awards every year for one service or another; whether it be for our financial advice, our investment management, our communications or our approach to servicing our private clients, but we are particularly proud to have won the VIB Best Financial Education Provider award.

But why is this award so important to us? Since the introduction of freedom and choice in pensions and the ever increasing need for employers to get the best possible return on their benefit spend as part of their EVP, there has been a rise in demand for financial education in the workplace. As with all things in a free economy, growth in demand attracts an increasing number of suppliers and in recent years there have been a number of new entrants to the financial education space, and more existing providers wanting to align their services under the financial education umbrella.

Our clients and their employees tell us year on year that our services are of the highest possible quality, exceed their expectations and help them to deliver their key objectives. But, it is difficult to benchmark that against all-comers and that is why we entered this award, and why we are so excited about this win. Awards provide independent evidence that your services are the best in the market, give comfort to existing clients, reassurance to potential new clients and pride to our business. 

Once we got over the initial excitement of winning, it’s crucial for us to know why we won.  Despite being a leading provider of financial education since the early 1970’s, we are never complacent and are always looking to develop our services to meet changing needs and to deliver the best.

We work with employers across many different sectors, with widely differing cultures and a range of different exercises from the straightforward to the highly sensitive and complex. We know from experience that to deliver effective financial education programmes, you need multiple communication channels and the full range of delivery services including face to face, digital, webinars, tools and modellers and engaging communications – one size really doesn’t fit all. Having everything in our toolkit and the experience to select the most effective combination for that employer, that group of employees and that particular exercise leads to successful programmes.

We believe that financial education should stretch across the whole of the benefits offering, not just focus on pensions. Whilst pensions represent a significant portion of the EVP, they are not everything and the other benefits are equally important in driving engagement and helping staff to reduce outgoings and create the room to save.

And it’s not just about workplace benefits. With an increasing focus on improving financial wellbeing, more financial education also needs to include personal financial planning aspects such as mortgages, budgeting, planning and personal protection, even if workplace benefits don’t offer a solution. However, a fantastic programme won’t be effective unless it drives individual employees to make positive changes to improve their own finances and so we believe strongly in engagement; we aim to inspire employees with real life stories, examples and case studies to bring to life how they can use these benefits to improve their lives now and in their future.  Finally, intrinsic to everything we do is success measurement, reviewing and reporting on a wide range of MI to demonstrate quality, impact and a return on investment.

We understand that the judges awarded us Best Financial Education Provider because of all of these aspects: our wide-ranging, multi-channel programmes; our compelling statistics; our breadth of education beyond pensions; and our extensive case study approach to engagement. For now we will take this accolade, but we will never take our leading position for granted and will continue to listen to our clients, keep our eye on the developing needs in the marketplace and the advances of competitors and continue to develop and deliver industry-leading services.

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