Can technology bridge the responsibility gap?

By Teamspirit on Monday, 26 February 2018

With the shift in responsibility for pensions and savings moving from the Government to individuals and employers, our latest panel session in partnership with The Financial Services Forum debated how technology can help employers make a genuine difference to their employees’ financial wellness and power new ways of employee engagement.

Our panel brought together experts from across the financial services spectrum: from global employee benefit providers, right through to fast growing fintechs at the heart of these initiatives: Shri Rengasamy (Principal at Mercer), Samantha Seaton (CEO at Moneyhub), Andrew Evans (CEO at Smart Pensions), and Andrew Scott (Head of R&D at Vitality).

Shri Rengasamy gave the audience a fantastic introduction to both trends in workplace engagement, and the concept of financial wellness. The financial challenges faced by many members of the national workforce have become greater, but also more complex, while levels of financial literacy remain low. These challenges are compounded when it comes to long term financial planning and retirement saving when, in this decade of low salary growth, day to day financial demands take precedence over a pension.

According to Mercer “68% don’t ever expect to retire, or expect to keep working in later life”. To effect lasting change in financial wellness, employers have a role to play in helping drive behavioural change, but to do this, companies need to treat each employee as an individual. In Shri’s opinion, with global companies such as Facebook and Amazon able to provide services that adapt to users based on their needs, why can’t financial wellbeing services do something similar?

Samantha Seaton, CEO of financial management technology company Moneyhub, focussed her presentation on the need to support individuals to understand their financial goals and how to realise them. Tools like Moneyhub apply AI and transactional analysis to provide personalised nudges to improve financial wellness, allowing employers to tailor their offerings and solve the financial issues that their employees are facing, without making inaccurate assumptions.

Andrew Evans, co-Founder and CEO of Smart Pension responded to Samantha by considering the role of communication with customers. Pensions require a unique approach that makes the intangible a part of everyday financial behaviour. This rests on improving the relationship between providers and customers so that users feel in control of their money. Andrew saw it as inevitable that Open Banking would bring radical change to financial services provision by tackling the immediacy of customer relationships. It is a future that will bring lasting benefit to consumers.

Andrew Scott, Head of R&D at Vitality broadened the discussion from financial wellness, to wellness more generally, and the importance of technology and a shared value model in making a change. Vitality’s model of using nudges and rewards to improve health and fitness has proven benefits. And the benefits are felt not just by the individual, but by their employer: increasing wellbeing actually helps overall productivity.

In wrapping up our session, the panel agreed that financial wellness is here to stay, and that there were real benefits for employers that harnessed technology to create bespoke support. The advent of Open Banking is an exciting opportunity which can only benefit consumers, and the opportunity is there for both established companies and new entrants to change financial wellness in the workplace for the better.

It was an excellent #FSFFintech session and we very much look forward to more sessions throughout 2018. In meantime, thank you to all the panellists.

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