The pension zeitgeist

zeitgeistYesterday I asked whether social media could play a part in pension governance. It attracted some really interesting responses on the social media site where it was posted.

One question was whether I’d seen it happen and of course the answer is “yes”. Perhaps the most powerful use of technology in understanding how to meet customer demand is the Tesco Clubcard. People understand this as a way of accumulating a “free lunch” but that’s the reward you are given for telling Tesco the way you shop. Your data and that of all the other shoppers determines the lines that Tesco sell ,where they are positioned around the store and how Tesco advertise their offers to get your footfall.

We don’t object because we benefit. Our perfect shopping experience has been self-determined and the Clubcard is simply the portal by which we (unwittingly) articulate what we want.

In financial services we have done very little of this . I suspect that a few very successful organisations such as Hargreaves Lansdowne have been capturing purchasing behaviour from their website for such time and know enough about what works and what doesn’t to be maximizing their influence by careful web presentation, but the level of understanding of what the 1.2m employers about to become pension customers is pretty woeful.

By the end of 2017 we will know what people bought  and may have a reasonable idea of why (I’m banking on people leaving more than a footprint).

There are a lot of ways to find out how people took decisions but the best is to ask them by getting them to take their decisions in front of you. This is what on-line purchasing is all about and it is how we get to a perfect state (which might ge where Amazon is right now).

The Tescos and Amazons come and go but the decisions we take as to where our employers money is invested for the next few decades is likely to stick (unless we get some serious pot-follows- member action).

So we need to be in earnest in getting attuned to what people want. I suspect that we’ll get a lot more than online purchasing. Martin Lewis has shown that give people the opportunity to chat about their decisions, they’ll grab it and they’ll use like buttons, forums and goodness knows what to give product designers and sales directors the information they need to get it right for the future.

The corporate pensions “industry” is in catch up mode here and so far it has only paid lip-service to social media. The real lessons to be learned come from what people do , not just what they say; but we can start by listening to the pensions Zeitgeist. It may not be pleasant to listen to at the moment but it’s got to be done.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen, Director of First Actuarial, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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1 Response to The pension zeitgeist

  1. Pingback: Helping companies take decisions on pensions | The Vision of the Pension Plowman

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