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Scottish Widows were delighted to host over 100 people with a Scottish Widows workplace pension scheme. Our event was hosted by Ali Nicolson and Jane Clark-Hutchison, Co-Heads of Client Relationships. There were dedicated sessions on market insights and sharing our innovative digital developments, and our investment strategy. The day saw those from a diverse range of industries coming together with the single-minded purpose of ensuring the best retirement outcomes for employees.
Ross Gardner, Public Affairs Manager opened with a session on the External Environment, exploring the current political climate and the impact on pensions and wider savings – from pensions dashboards and auto-enrolment contribution increases, to the latest pensions review. He also updated on activity to best help employees with a number of small pension pots from a variety of previous employments. Questions from employers covered all of these topics. There was particular interest in how the government can make real changes to help with the financial gap and a broader holistic view of savings.
Financial wellness during rising cost of living
Pensions Specialist, Robert Cochran, followed with the latest insight on consumer behaviour and the changes people are making, as they adapt to the rising cost of living.
Our Lloyds Banking Group customer base means we have a wealth of data on people's spending habits. While people are finding ways to make savings (such as switching from high-end brands and turning down the heating) there has been very little reduction in pension contributions. This was backed up by a poll of employers at the event, which showed that 52% have seen employees increasing contributions, and at levels above the rate of salary increases. Indeed, it would seem that consumer confidence is gradually on the rise.
There were lots of questions with employers looking at how to work together to help support those most affected by increased financial pressures. There was also a focus on those who are more vulnerable, including people with lower numeracy skills. Our Workplace Insights feature helps employers delve much deeper into their own scheme profile, and offers benchmark data to see how that profile compares across the market.
Energising engagement through digital
Leslee Ross, Workplace Digital Lead continued the theme, looking at how we can increase engagement in pensions by connecting people’s day to day money with long-term saving through our digital ecosystem. People in the UK spend, on average, over four hours on their phones. Creating an experience designed to work first on mobile, and with everyone in mind, is at the heart of what we do. We aim to be a leader in holistic financial planning and our significant investment has seen some great results.
Engagement is growing, with over 500m workplace pensions views pa in our retail banking app, and engagement with our Scottish Widows app up 117%. Employers were particularly interested in inclusive design and delivery. They asked how we use Customer Labs to test accessibility and continue to enhance capability that can help improve long-term financial resilience for their employees.
Investing for tomorrow
Investments Director, Iain McGowan, and specialist Adam Paterson, explained the approach to asset allocation. They explained the focus on equities for long-term performance, as well as a move to a more globally balanced approach. Working with companies on sustainability, the investments specialists look to help encourage positive change. Employers asked about diversification and how that impacts on return and what the views were on the currency hedge and the vulnerabilities in the market. There was also discussion about employee attitude to risk and the importance of choice.
Sharing employer experiences
Feedback from attendees identified the employer Panel session as a particular highlight of the day. Scottish Widows were delighted to invite Rachel Petty, Independent Vet Care; Paul Bird, News UK; and Jonathan Peggs, Jaguar Land Rover, to share their experience of engaging employees in pensions. They explained tailoring communications when employees are not desk-based, and helping people increase contributions in a manageable way. It was great to hear directly from those who have their workplace pension with Scottish Widows and how collaborative partnerships are creating positive results and greater employee engagement.
Reinvesting for customers
Reflecting on the day, Workplace Pensions Director Graeme Bold highlighted the way Scottish Widows not only responds to market influences but keeps future trends front of mind. As contributions and pension pots increase, and people retire later, the nature of pensions engagement will change as well. The core message was one of reassurance that customers (whether employers or employees) are at the heart of Scottish Widows' approach – reinvesting in the business, personalising experiences, and embracing growth at the heart of future strategy.
Take a few minutes to watch the highlights of the event in our short film.