With so much of our lives spent engaging through digital channels and consuming digital media, it should be no surprise to know that I see this as a critical element in delivering the next generation of Capita’s pensions and benefits services.

Our primary goal is to make it easy for members to manage and understand their pensions, but in my view, this is just the start. Services need to go further, supporting members with their wider financial wellbeing, which research shows has a major bearing on mental wellbeing1 too.

A mobile-first strategy puts pensions in members’ pockets, giving them easy access to information on-the-go and, ideally, providing two-way communication through the channels they use every day.

Mobile-first sets the benchmark for the way that digital pensions are enabled. For a large percentage of the population, the smart or mobile phone is at the centre of their digital world2.

We use our phone in our day-to-day lives to communicate with family and friends through messaging and other social media channels such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Depending on our employment, we now more regularly see business functionality creeping in, too, such as checking our work email on our personal phone.

Making a call doesn’t even make the top 10 uses of the phone yet, often, contacting a call centre is the only way for many to manage their pension or get information. In my view, a pensions strategy that doesn’t put pensions in members’ pockets isn’t a strategy at all.

Banks have been quick (relatively speaking) to ensure that they have valuable space on our phones, and we expect this to expand more widely with the increasing adoption of Open Banking and the introduction of pensions dashboards and Open Finance – all great steps forward.

Pensions are an important part of a person’s overall wealth, very quickly becoming a member’s biggest single savings vehicle. Having the technological capability to allow people easy, on-the-go access to this important information, and providing it via their phone, is vital.

But providing the technology to achieve this is only half the battle. All companies, not just financial services, are competing for screen time and this is increasingly focused on our phones.

As well as the latest technology, a forward-thinking communications strategy is needed to unlock engagement. The industry is getting better at providing information digitally, but we need to move this forward to turn it into real engagement.  

Perhaps that only really happens if we can entertain members. Not entertain them in the way that the latest PS5 game might (although we’re developing a game for our Atlas pensions scheme members) but in the way that the Oxford Dictionary defines it.

The Oxford Dictionary defines entertain as “give attention or consideration to an idea or feeling”. This is exactly how we should be engaging and entertaining members: helping them to pay attention to probably the most important investment they will ever make apart from their home. And with financial wellbeing closely linked to mental wellbeing, it really shouldn’t be that difficult to have something interesting to say.

Communication strategies have changed dramatically over the last decade and digital has become the norm rather than the exception to the rule. In fact, giving people online, real-time access to their pensions information is fast becoming a hygiene factor.

So I think that we’re heading in the right direction with interactive and video statements but there’s so much more here that we haven’t even scratched the surface.

We need to develop a more personalised engagement strategy. Messaging is likely to play a key role, especially as iMessage, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp give these channels a strong shove into the business world. It’s a logical step to take, too: open rates for emails are poor compared to the estimated 98% open rate for WhatsApp messages3.

Personalisation and gamification should be at the heart of any market leading engagement strategy, making sure that we don’t just have the technology but that we’ve got something relevant and interesting to say, too.

Thinking about your organisation?

[1] https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/tips-for-everyday-living/money-and-mental-health/money-and-mental-health/
[2] https://www.cnbc.com/2019/01/24/smartphones-72percent-of-people-will-use-only-mobile-for-internet-by-2025.html
[3] https://usergrowth.io/blog/whatsapp-marketing/