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Beyond Birthdays and Battle Buses: Rethinking Member Engagement and the ‘M’ word
Insights - What We Think

Danny Meehan | Growth Leader

The recent Department of Workplace Pensions (DWP) Call for Evidence on Pot for Life has sparked lively discussions, and many concerns have been raised about the potential impact of marketing on member engagement.

This first blog post in a three-part series focuses on the particularly sensitive topic of marketing. Is it truly the villain it's often made out to be? We explore through the lens of the Australian experience and learn how marketing, when done right, can be a powerful tool for empowering members and boosting engagement.

For years, “engagement” has been the industry's buzzword, with everything from birthday statements to pension battle buses being positioned as solutions. While each holds some merit, the fundamental issue lies in the structure of workplace pensions: they place employers, not members, at the centre.

Except for a select cohort of larger employers, evidence suggests pensions are seen as a compliance burden, not an employee benefit. This translates to limited member choice, low trust, and an industry primarily catering to payroll bureaus and employers. It’s no surprise that Link Group's recent survey of 1,500 pension members revealed nearly 40% distrust their employers to choose the "best" pension arrangement. A one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn't cut it.

For this reason, traditional engagement efforts haven't resonated with people. However, with the individual pot consolidation market heating up, we've seen effective marketing campaigns from retail providers, with some leaders in the workplace pension market starting to follow suit. Now, a common concern arises: isn't marketing to members just an inefficient resource drain?

Here's where evidence from Australia, and even our own shores, paints a different picture. Responsible marketing directed at members demonstrably increases awareness, engagement, and, with proper safeguards, empowers them to make informed decisions.

Imagine if we designed a system that combines the power of automatic enrolment with the flexibility offered by Pot for Life. We can minimise risk for those who prefer a hands-off approach while empowering those who wish to actively choose a provider aligned with their values, communication preferences, retirement goals, and investment beliefs.

This isn't about forcing engagement onto passive members. It's about recognising that some people want more control over their financial future. Responsible marketing, tailored to their needs and circumstances, can bridge the information gap, fostering trust and ultimately leading to better outcomes. After all, wouldn't we all prefer to be informed participants in our retirement journey, rather than passive passengers on a pre-determined route?

Let's not shy away from the “M word” – let's use its power to build a pension system that truly serves the needs of our people, not just employers and bureaucracies.

This is just the beginning of the conversation, and I invite you to join me in exploring the exciting possibilities that lie ahead.

Next up: How the Australian equivalent of the Value for Money Framework is impacting member decision making and consolidation of superannuation funds.

Danny Meehan

Growth Leader