17 January 2017

Words from pensions guru Henry Tapper

It’s hard to find your members, so make the best of the chances you get!

Talking with your deferred members…

One of the hardest things about running an occupational pension scheme is knowing who you’re running it for. If you’re running a family trust, you know the family, even if you’re running an NHS trust, you know your patients are situated close to your hospitals. But if you run an occupational pension trust, your members can be – and usually are – everywhere.

Of course “everywhere” can be closer than you think. They might be living in Timbuktoo but if they’ve got a linked in or Facebook profile, they’re with you at the click of a button! We leave a digital trail behind us that makes us easier to find than ever before and the fact that you are reading this digitally tells me that people can find you easily enough!

For trustees of occupational pension schemes, finding the beneficiaries of the pension plan is getting easier with digitalisation, but when you find them what are you going to say?

Here’s a lot of money – Enjoy”

Most trustees would think it better to rephrase this

Here’s a lot of money – Would you like to know what you can do with it?”

Trustees have a duty of care to their beneficiaries that extends beyond managing the pension pot, there is a moral – if not legal- responsibility to engage, educate and empower members to make sensible decisions around money.

As more members retire with a mix of DB and DC benefits (a growing number with just a DC pension pot), the need to understand the choices pension freedoms brings – become ever stronger.

That’s why you hear so much from politicians, regulators and consultants about financial education.

But you cannot educate people unless you can engage with them. Which brings us back to the trustee’s dilemma, how can I find my beneficiaries.

Of course many beneficiaries are harder to find than simply searching on linked in. People change name and a lot of people, especially older people, do not use social media to display themselves. Many hide their profiles for fear of predators and the business of finding these people requires expertise.

That’s why we at First Actuarial employ professional tracing agencies on behalf of the trustees we work for. We’ve been using Target for a little while and we’re pleased with their results, they find Trustees their beneficiaries.

But once they’ve been found, what can Trustees really do? We think their duty is to engage, educate and empower those with decisions to make, to take those decisions in an informed way.

Here’s a video we use when we talk to members about the choices they have when they have a DC pot

 

 

We can’t say for sure whether people will know what to do after watching videos or reading articles, but we know we have to try! People don’t often pay attention to their pension, so when they do- it makes sense to grab the opportunity with both hands.