Membership survey gives us valuable insights


Sharon Bellingham

Sharon Bellingham

Master Trust and IGC Lead.

The 2023 Scottish Widows Master Trust annual membership survey highlights the challenges many face when it comes to planning and saving for retirement, but there are reasons to be optimistic. 

The Scottish Widows Master Trust membership survey (PDF, 8MB) is one of the ways we try to understand and support members’ diverse and changing needs.  We carry out the survey on an annual basis and, this year, we wanted to share our key findings and what our members are telling us – so that we shed further light on the pressing need for each of us to better understand and engage with our finances for a more prosperous retirement.  

While pensions are at the heart of most people’s retirement plans and millions of us are saving into a workplace pension, adequacy is still a pressing issue. A considerable number of people are off course from reaching a comfortable retirement, or even an adequate one. 

Scottish Widows Master Trust insights

We’re all familiar with the prevailing lack of understanding and engagement, with considerable numbers only starting to think about their retirement savings and options as they get older.  

Concerningly, our survey findings show over a third of members aged 55-64 still need to start planning for retirement and of those aged 65+, just over one third (36%) have fully planned for it. 

Just 8% of members have high understanding and interest in their retirement savings and they told us that they are actively planning for their retirement – usually these are older men who have a better understanding, engage with their retirement savings at least monthly, and are willing to pay for advice.  

In stark contrast, women are less likely to understand their finances, with more than a fifth of the women surveyed telling us they have never checked the balance of their retirement account.  

Just over a third (35%) of members have low understanding, and low interest in their retirement savings, typically don’t know how many pension pots they have, and they also told us that they don’t see the value in paying for retirement advice. This group is also digitally disengaged, and a high proportion are female and age 65 and over.  

Unique challenges 

We know too that some members face unique challenges, with our survey again highlighting the significant difficulties faced by those with disabilities. With 14% of members sharing that they have disabilities, nearly a third (31%) of this cohort admit their disability affects how they manage their finances. 

Anyone can become vulnerable at any time, and there are clear links between disability and vulnerability. Whilst not all members with disabilities are vulnerable, they often have additional needs. 

Since Scottish Widows is part of Lloyds Banking Group (LBG), it means that Scottish Widows Master Trust members benefit from our customer inclusion and vulnerability strategy, with Lloyds Banking Group investing £11.4m to develop support for those who find themselves in vulnerable circumstances. This includes the ‘Tell us Once’ approach to support vulnerable customers across all LBG products with just one notification. 

We also support members to take control of their finances and offer financial wellbeing support, tools, and a personalised, engaging experience. 

Reasons to be optimistic  

Despite the challenges, we remain optimistic. Nearly half of members with low pension understanding told us they’re motivated to learn more, and we’ve also seen this for ourselves during our member education sessions, employer webinar programme and from the success of Pension Engagement Season this year. 

Having everything in one place was another theme which came through in the report and as the industry continues to work through the Pensions Dashboard delivery plan, we can also see how technology is revolutionising how people view their overall finances. 

Integrating open finance allows us all to take a holistic “big picture” view of our money, which undoubtedly helps with increasing pension awareness. We know this, as our members can already view their retirement savings alongside their Lloyds, Halifax, or Bank of Scotland bank accounts. 

With so many people currently facing financial pressures, it’s more important than ever to listen to members, to understand their circumstances and any challenges they may be facing. Understanding who they are provides us with insights which we can learn from – and it allows us to take action to help them to improve their retirement outcomes. 

Read the full Scottish Widows Member Survey Insight Report 2023 (PDF, 8MB).  




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