Nest Insight launches opt-out payroll savings trial

Nest Insight has collaborated with Suez Recycling and Recovery UK and TransaveUK to launch a new opt-out workplace emergency saving research trial.

Initially announced in July 2021, it aims to determine whether making payroll saving the default means more workers get started on a savings buffer.

Nest Insight was supported in the process of making the opt-out programme by the BackRock Foundation and the Money and Pensions Service (Maps).

Over the next six months, new Suez employees will be automatically signed up to payroll saving with credit union Transave, unless they opt out.

“Employers have a vital role in helping their staff build greater financial resilience,” commented Pensions Minister, Guy Opperman.

“Schemes offered by employers, such as payroll savings, can help people build a safety net that enables them to withstand short-term financial shocks.

“Workplace emergency savings schemes take up is too low and I look forward to reviewing the findings of this trial."

Drawing on the early findings of its sidecar savings trial, Nest Insight hopes that the automatic nature of the approach will help reduce barriers to saving by “reducing sign-up friction and overcoming inertia”.

It added that the programme would preserve employees’ choice to decide what to do with their money, whilst removing the need to for them to complete a full sign up-journey if they want to start saving.

Under the trial, workers will be able to make changes to the amount they save, if anything, and quickly withdraw the money if they need it, while being able to stop saving at any time.

The research will be conducted for one year to assess participation rates, savings behaviours, and the impact on employee financial wellbeing.

Commenting on the announcement, Nest Insight director of research and innovation, Jo Phillips, said: “We know from our sidecar saving trial that a lot of employees like the idea of building up short-term savings through automatic payroll deduction, but many don’t get around to signing up even if they intend to - a pattern that’s often seen with other voluntary savings solutions and workplace benefits.

“In this trial, we’re excited to see what happens when you overcome inertia and remove sign-up friction by switching the default if you do nothing from ‘not saving’ to ‘saving’ whilst, importantly, preserving choice. The approach has the potential to be a real game-changer for financial wellbeing by supporting employees to follow through on intentions to save.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has shown us very clearly the importance of having accessible, emergency savings on hand to help protect against financial shocks. But concerningly, it's estimated that around 11.5 million people in the UK have less than £100 of savings to fall back on.

“We hope that our research can build understanding of how we can help many more people who want to build up a financial buffer to get started with saving and begin to turn the tide on the low levels of financial resilience seen particularly among low and moderate income workers.

“Nest Insight and the academic team are grateful to Suez and Transave for their time and dedication to setting up this ground-breaking trial with us, to the BlackRock Foundation and MaPS for their generous support, and to the FCA regulatory sandbox for working with us to explore how to enable this trial under the current regulations. We look forward to sharing results as the trial progresses.”

Suez head of reward and pensions, Michelle Sutton, added: “Our proactive and holistic approach to supporting our people encompasses all aspects of their wellbeing, including their finances. This trial complements our existing portfolio of financial benefits that includes a salary advance service, an opt-in savings scheme, emergency loans, discounts with a broad range of high street retailers and webinars on financial wellbeing topics such as budgeting, pensions and fraud prevention.

“We know that our people are making use of the salary advance service and, by setting the default savings amount at £40 to match the average salary advance draw down, we hope that it will be an accessible and user-friendly way for staff to build up a savings buffer to draw upon for those unexpected outlays, such as broken appliances or emergency vets fees.

“We have taken care to ensure communications to our new starters on the opt-out model were fully transparent, empowering them to decide if saving is right for them, and we’re looking forward to hearing from those who save, on how the trial affects their financial position and attitude to saving.”

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