How do we close the Pension knowledge gap? We need thumb stopping digital content

By Adam Smith on Friday, 25 September 2020

A gaping knowledge gap still exists for UK workers when it comes to their pension. It’s this very topic that has been full of debate over the past few weeks. Pensions Awareness Day kicked off the conversation with providers, like Royal London, Canada Life and Just Group, issuing research and commenting on the lack of awareness. Harvey Jones at The Express covered the news just this week and in his article you’ll find some of our very own research on the topic.

As communication specialists, our job is to help financial services companies, including pension providers, investment houses and wealth managers to educate people about their finances. And the findings of our research, from just a couple of weeks ago, prove for sober reading and a timely reminder that something needs to change.

30% of pension holders, that’s a massive proportion of the workforce, say they don’t have a clue where their money goes when it is saved into a pension. Just one in five (22%) know it is invested but don’t know where. And worryingly 12% believe the pension company sets the money aside and it is not touched by anyone until they access the savings at pension age. Just one in three (34%) people are on the money (no pun intended) and know that their pension savings get invested into the stock market and other assets.

What this tells me is that we need to get back to basics. And that includes us communication experts. But government, pension providers and the entire pensions and savings industry need to be aware not just of what they are saying, but how they are saying it.

Some great strides are being made with Royal London’s secret life of pensions campaign being a wonderful example but, still, so few people understand what their pension gets up to at night (or in the day). This is hugely concerning for people’s financial future. If pension savers don’t know where their money goes how can we expect them to make any changes, move out of default funds, consolidate their savings, switch to more ethical investments, or change their risk profile, or know what to do with the money when they hit retirement.

Unfortunately, this low awareness is widespread across all age groups which means that we need to adopt more creative communication tactics to grab the attention of different audiences. A letter or email that lands in a pension holders inbox is only part of the solution. Communication and general pension education needs to be promoted on various channels. This means more content on social channels, more video, more games, more animation, more influencers. And dare I say it, it needs to be more entertaining. Yes, pensions are interesting!

Think about your mobile phone - the average person’s thumb travels more than 5 miles a year scrolling through online content. Pension content needs to be thumb stopping. Only then can we help people understand what their pension is and how it can help them in the future. Only then can we start to transform financial services for the better.