When I think back almost 30 years to my admin days in Irish Life, processing DC renewals and preparing the Benefit Statements for the adviser's upcoming renewal meeting, it strikes me that little has changed over those 3 decades.
Well, the value proposition of the pension providers has moved with the times, becoming more sophisticated with online member access, tools and calculators but for many advisers their service model and delivery remains unchanged. The customary annual renewal meeting to discuss the member benefit statement, seeing the same members turning up year on year along with the usual financial apathy from the rest, if they bother to show.
Are members dis-engaged with their pension or with their adviser?
Is it that these members don’t care about money or their financial future? Is it that they cannot understand the perceived complexities of projections, risk, future value etc.? I think if we scratched beneath the surface, we would see that most are quite financially literate; they actively use the internet to research financial topics, read articles, watch vlogs and probably have a Revolut account. Sounds like a pretty engaged bunch. So why not engage with their pension? Well, maybe they have no real issue with their pension. They have a rough idea what has been paid in and what they will get at retirement. They don’t have an issue with their pension but just don’t engage with the way it’s delivered.
Brand engagement can only be created through awareness and customer touch-points. Is seeing scheme members once a year sufficient for creating lasting brand awareness? From the ritual benefit statement meetings do members really see the scheme adviser as the one to turn to for all their financial needs into the future? Unfortunately, in many cases not. Information is everywhere, available from all sorts of media, whenever and however members want it.
Out of sight is out of mind, and if the adviser does not have year-round touch points, the member will get their answers and solutions elsewhere. There is endless research on the reasons why customers leave for another adviser and time and time again it points to the same reasons; lack of personal connection, indifference and not feeling valued.
Clients already interact throughout their daily lives via their smartphone; with their bank, the GAA team, the supermarket and even the parking meter but not with their adviser. Whilst they do engage with the technology solutions of the pension provider; this is not the same as engaging with their adviser. Engaging with a third-party brand can further dilute the brand of the adviser and they lose out on yet another possible touch-point to interact with their client.
Brand awareness and strong client relationships can only be created from adviser touch-points throughout the year. Relying solely on the customary renewal meeting as the client engagement strategy can be a gamble as clients have digital expectations and technology is a necessity of any firm hoping for long term sustainability.
Low cost client engagement for the smaller adviser
Advisers need to be digitally engaged with scheme members. We might still have filing cabinets in the office but in the eyes of the member we need to be providing a modern engagement experience that they can relate to. Regular touch-points need to be established to continually reinforce the adviser’s brand and create opportunities throughout the scheme year.
Centric supports the adviser in providing a low-cost client engagement solution that builds client relationships and boosts scheme revenue.
Karl O Meara