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3 quick tips to get your workplace pension into shape

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My social media feeds must have been hacked!

They are awash with inspirational life quotes, healthy menu options abound and all references to fine wines and craft beers have mysteriously disappeared. At the very least there must be some kind of algorithmic glitch…or it’s just January!

Does a change in the date result in a complete overhaul in behaviour? Briefly perhaps, but for most of us we'll gently drift back to old routines and familiar habits.

According to one of the links that appeared on LinkedIn this week, the top three resolutions made every year haven’t changed for well over a decade. The most popular goals we are regularly setting are:

 

3. Spend less and save more

2. Live life to the full

1. Lose weight

 

Now, I’m certainly not going to propose giving any guidance on weight loss – I have enough work to do myself on that one first. And the second resolution is vague enough that each person will have their own interpretation of its meaning. Planning incredible holidays, picking up that dusty guitar, eating dinner as a family, mastering Mandarin, the list goes on and on.

But there is certainly some help that can be offered when it comes to the third resolution: spend less and save more.

I’m not going to focus on tips for individuals. There are plenty of articles about giving up a cup of coffee a day in order to save the £2.40 for something else or reviewing monthly outgoings, setting budgets and making plans for the year. While this is ground that I don’t intend to rake over, the same principles can be applied to the approach taken by companies managing their pensions and benefits.

Will you be setting any resolutions for your company pension scheme and how will you achieve these goals?

We encourage individuals to review their finances to ensure that they are getting the best deals and the same views must be taken when it comes to advisers, providers and investments. It is likely that money from both you and your employees is regularly trickling into pension pots. Are your members getting value for that money? Just because a scheme has been running without any obvious problems doesn’t mean it couldn’t be better.

 

Check your charges

On the whole we are pretty good at finding a good deal for ourselves or haggling for a better price. When it comes to pensions, charges are the most obvious example of a negotiable element. How can you be sure that your scheme is as good as can be? Test the water, benchmark against other schemes and make sure that your provider has been challenged over the charges being deducted. Perhaps they could improve, or if not then find out what would need to change in order for the charge to reduce. It doesn’t hurt to ask, does it?

 

Test your support

Now that the murky water of commission has been cleared away it should be very simple to understand what you are spending and what you are getting. If it is not clear, ask why not. It may be that the amount you spend doesn’t need to change but the services you receive can be amended to suit the actual needs of your scheme rather than simply continuing with the status quo. However, like our personal bank accounts or insurance contracts it can often seem like too much hassle to make a shift: ”If it ain’t broke…,” right? At the very least, that needs to change.

 

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Perhaps you’ll set yourself the challenge of improving your level of member engagement. Making sure that they understand the benefits that you are offering would mean they not only make the most of them, but also that they know how much money you are spending in order to provide them. A step further could be to widen your support and explore the opportunity to offer financial education in the workplace. You can help your employees to understand their financial options and once they’ve taken action to make their future more secure, they’re likely to be relaxed, focused, happy, healthy and productive. Win Win.

And so now is the time to act!

While you are eating that superfood salad and deciding which yoga class to attend, take some time to consider the company pension scheme. Channel those good intentions and your can-do attitude, set yourself a challenge and see what results you can achieve for your business and your employees.

 

By Gavin Zaprzala-Banks

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