Blog: Pensions Awareness Week 2020

The Pensions Awareness Week bus took a virtual route this year, shifting to a 5-day online event amid the ongoing pandemic, in its campaign to encourage more awareness around pensions.

Pensions can be a difficult topic to broach, let alone create a national campaign around, but with industry research demonstrating the crucial income and knowledge gaps that continue to face workers in their retirement, it is clearly needed.

Whilst the shift to a virtual campaign has not yet seen a new pensions dance trend emerge on Tik Tok, it has allowed the industry to rally behind the initiative in an attempt to engage members with their savings and retirement planning, with many organisations providing additional support, such as virtual ‘back to basics’ sessions for members.

This has not only bought renewed support and enthusiasm for key ongoing campaigns, such as Scam Man and Robin, but also the emergence of new campaigns, such as Royal London’s Secret Life of Pensions initiative.

Direct consumer support has also been bolstered throughout the week, with an additional virtual session held via Pension Wise, as research from the Money and Pensions Service revealed that more than 3 million over 50s were planning to leave retirement planning until the final two years before retirement, or not plan at all.

Indeed, much of the research published this week has highlighted the risks facing members should awareness and engagement not improve, with Wednesday also being state pension shortfall day, the point in the year when retirees’ average yearly spending exceeds the state pension income if it was taken on 1 January, according to Just Group analysis.

The group highlighted the findings as evidence of the importance of building up additional savings and retirement income, with just 17 per cent viewing the state pension as enough to live on in retirement.

This only makes it more important that when raising awareness around pensions, it is the right message that is being heard and understood, alongside the appropriate support and resources.

Indeed, much of the activity surrounding the pensions awareness campaign has focused on improving member knowledge, and understanding, with a particular focus on educating members of the risks of pension scams.

Campaigns such as Make My Money Matter have also worked hard to bring make pensions relevant within the broader narrative, this week launching its film produced in conjunction with WWF, Our Planet: Too Big to Fail, which highlighted the role that the financial industry can play in the fight against climate risk.

Of course, growing member engagement and understanding can be a double-edged sword, and it is a careful line between engagement and potential frustration, should members potentially not have the investment or access options available that they expect.

And whilst Pension Awareness Week 2020 may have shifted to a virtual event, this hasn’t held back the industry from discussing pensions with members, with industry concerns and campaigns driven by member insights.

The recent FCA campaign focusing on football fans for example, was launched after research found that 43 per cent of supporters do not know how much is in their pension pot, and that 45 per cent do not know whether an approach about their pension is legitimate.

The DWP and Nest Insight announced earlier this week that it would be shifting research focus to a new series, considering the impact of Covid-19 on the self-employed, to better inform its ongoing messaging trials.

A dialogue with members is emerging, and the industry is adapting in order to hear and meet member expectations and desires.

Members may have a lot to learn about their pension, but the industry still has a lot to learn about the individuals it serves, and as these members become more aware, they will undoubtedly challenge schemes to do better, driving even more innovation and progress.

Improving awareness is the first step in creating this dialogue, and although today may mark the last day in Pensions Awareness Week, it is important that the industry maintains momentum and continues to engage with members far beyond this week.

After all, a pension (even a lost one) is for life, not just for Pensions Awareness Week.

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