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. Decent sized schemes which start 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. Everything is planned, structured and arranged through HR. The traditional annual renewal meetings and distribution of benefit statements take this familiar route, as does any other correspondence, for onward transmission to the members.
These communications constraints have a negative effect on the member/adviser relationship with members typically experiencing just a single touch-point in the scheme year, via the customary 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 they can to 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. So often for the rest of the year, the adviser’s phone is silent as scheme members engage elsewhere when they need financial guidance.
Where is our scheme adviser?
Customer touch points are paramount to building brand loyalty and engagement. The communication constraints of the group pension structure make this difficult for the adviser. These difficulties are further compounded when advisers, determined not to turn down business, take on schemes hundreds of miles from their business location. Dublin adviser with a scheme in Letterkenny, Galway adviser with a scheme in Waterford…. we have seen them all.
To break these communication constraints advisers need a new mode of communication. Advisers need to go digital. They need to create year-round touch points, build brand recognition and shape a value proposition beyond the solitary annual renewal meeting.
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?
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.
Positioned correctly members will welcome and value year-round guidance from the adviser and start to revert to the adviser for all their financial needs, pensions and beyond.
Karl O Meara
Centric / Founder