Not everything that glitters is gold and for the smaller adviser this phrase often rings true when it comes to their book of group pension business. A decent sized scheme which starts out with great promise often ends up just about washing its own face when it comes to scheme revenue. Administration, paperwork and dis-engaged scheme members are often the theme when the book of group business is being reviewed.
Unlike with individual clients, the group scheme has pre-defined communication parameters. There are no impromptu meetings of all scheme members or no turning up at the employer’s office to chat to a few members in the canteen, just because you were in the area. Everything is planned, structured and arranged through HR. The traditional annual renewal meetings and distribution of benefit statements all take this familiar route, as does any other correspondence you wish to get to members.
These communications constraints have a negative effect on the adviser/member relationship, with members typically experiencing just one annual customer touch-point in the form of the renewal meeting. Trust, confidence and brand recognition are all needed to build a quality client relationship. A solitary annual meeting does not afford the adviser the opportunity to develop these and subsequently the adviser can often be pigeon-holed into being the pensions-man/woman.
The implications of being the pensions-man are significant. With a weak adviser relationship and poor brand recognition, there can be resistance when the pension conversation strays into other financial services, and, for the rest of the year the adviser’s phone is often silent as scheme members engage elsewhere when they need financial guidance.
Rubbish collection has gone digital
Our household rubbish collection company texts me the evening the bins are due to go out, just to remind me. They send me nicely worded e mails thanking me for my custom. They provide monthly recycling reports detailing how much we recycled, based on the weight of the bin, that the lorry actually scans and weighs before dumping into the back. Is all this technology needed for a €29 per month rubbish collection? Well, they have my loyalty, I like dealing with them, every touch-point I have with this company is positive. Do pension scheme members feel the same about the service from their pension adviser?
Scheme communication strategy
If the household refuse collection has gone digital and managed to create multiple touch-points throughout the year, advisers should probably consider the same. Going digital creates a paradigm shift in the adviser’s value proposition. Members get multiple touch-points throughout the year, reinforcing the adviser’s brand and creating opportunities in pensions and beyond. The adviser is no longer the pensions man but instead a valued source of information throughout the year, providing guidance and advice when the members need it.
Changing the client experience
Clients have digital expectations. They interact daily with products and services that use technology to create a simple and frictionless experience. The great corporate successes of recent years like Uber, AirBnB and Revolut haven’t developed new products but simply changed how the customer experiences existing ones.
To gain solid member engagement and convert members into clients for life, the group pension scheme needs to be experienced in a different way. Advisers need to be digitally connected with their scheme members to start creating a member experience that scheme members expect. Year-round customer touch points are paramount to building brand loyalty and engagement and only by creating a digital connection can this be achieved in a streamline and cost-effective manner.
Karl O Meara
Founder & MD