You want (pension) engagement? Ask Corbyn!

Corbyn result

That didn’t happen by accident



How do you get youngsters interested in politics?

How do you get youngsters interested in pensions?

One and the same question IMO.

Instead of sitting in “blue-sky” meetings, maybe we should be looking at what successful politicians have done to get people  off their backsides and into the voting booth.

There have been three recent examples where political leaders have captured the imagination of millions – Farage – Trump – Corbyn. These are people who have had far more difficult products to sell than “saving money”, they’ve had to sell a reason for participating in a democratic process they may never have engaged with in their lives!

Farage got disaffected white British workers (especially male voters) to vote.

Trump got disaffected white American workers (especially male voters) to vote.

Corbyn got young British people (especially students) to vote.

Where do you learn how they did it?

Go to you tube.

Farage’s speech (which has nearly 400k views) spells it out

“If it wasn’t for Youtube in 2007-2008, I’d be nowhere.. nobody has made better use of social media than me … the broadcasters and the media in the wake of 2016 have got to press the reset button …because you are probably talking to less than half the country!”

Trump’s team  have picked up on this. Corbyn’s team has picked up on this. The fact is that Snapchat, Buzzfeed, Facebook, Twitter and Youtube have had more influence on British Politics than the BBC and the Daily Mail. Farage’s point is that conventional media is reinforcing the bias’ of the conventional voter – the affluent, elderly British metropolitan middle class. Farage’s point is that it is this isolated group who now totally dominate those working in the media. It is a very large echo chamber – but an echo chamber no less.

Now let’s put PLSA into the Youtube search engine. Where Trump and Corbyn and Farage get 100,000 views for sneezing, the PLSA can’t muster 300 views for a conversation by young people about why young people aren’t saving.

The only pensions organisation that has come close to getting popular viewing is the DWP with its auto-enrolment promotions. This simple video has got 150,000 hits

while this short clip gets over half a million views

I’m not claiming I’ve got the answers – but I know that google analytics is the key to understanding why our pensions industry is failing to get the message across and why the DWP and tPR can.

Is this a social or a commercial issue?

Well it’s both. If we want to see our commercial pensions prosper we need the money of young savers. If we want to spread the load of older-age dependency from the state to private pensions, we need the money of young savers.

But the financial services industry is not adapting very well. Here in this weekend’s FT is an article entitled “slow adoption of technology hurts asset managers“. It reveals asset managers as slow to adapt as the Conservative Party.

This is how the asset management industry sees the threats to its existing business model


The FT reports that Google has  commissioned research on how it could enter the asset management industry while Facebook recently received regulatory approval from the Central Bank of Ireland allowing it to operate a payments service.

Not only is social media grabbing the eyeballs, it is looking to grab the money.

Change or die

If you go back and watch the Nigel Farage video at the top of the blog, you will hear him warn the media moguls in the room, that if they don’t change, they will become irrelevant. That was in 2016.

In the first half of 2017, Jeremy Corbyn revitalised a tired Labour Party into an animated and interesting protest group. He did so with the worst set of policies ever put before a British electorate but he did so with the power of the new media. He delivered what the Conservatives couldn’t, he delivered to the people who get their news from Facebook, who watch youtube on their phones as they go to work.

If pensions want to talk to the people with whom it has no engagement, it is going to need to find new ways to deliver its message. Because right now we look about as good at talking to these people as the Conservatives.

Our brand new stand.PNG

Further research?

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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4 Responses to You want (pension) engagement? Ask Corbyn!

  1. Alan Chaplin says:

    good points henry. I would add in the thought that good pensions shouldn’t need engagement and lots of people “get” that. So when they see staid providers with tired products seeking to engage them to explain how good the offering is, they ignore it completely.

  2. Gerry Flynn says:

    If you want to engage with the younger generation about saving into a pension then imo try the following:
    1) Stop pensions being a “political football” and “a cash cow ” for the Treasury. This applies too the Cons,Lab and anyone else.
    2) Create a product that people can see will produce a tangible benefit at the end of the day. Not some wishy washy if buts and maybe that we have now in DC
    3) Relax the rules regarding surpluses on DB schemes,how pensions are accounted for, valuations to be done on a realistic measure and perhaps most controversially restrict the amount of dividend a company can pay if the pension scheme is in deficit.

  3. henry tapper says:

    Thanks Alan, agreed Gerry – but we need more than good ideas- we need people to listen!

  4. Brian Gannon says:

    HI Henry, Too right, the key is to find out what makes young people tick, and what is it that we can appeal to in their psyches that will switch them on to both listen and become interested in pensions. Of course even that is not true, it is not about pensions it is about giving people a vision of their life choices when people are no longer working. Pensions are boring, full stop. They have no interest to anyone at all other than geeks. Pensions are a tax wrapper. They are bloody dull. Tax is boring. Financial prudence is boring. Giving up pleasure now for the chance of something in future is not intuitively pleasurable. Deferred delight is not easy to visualize compared to a night out with colleagues getting riotously inappropriate. Pensions cannot ever appeal, it is what they can produce that appeals. It is actually about connecting with young people on their terms and getting them to make the link between what they choose to do financially now and how that impacts on what length of time they will need to work. It is not about FCA illustrations or estimates of what the pension might produce, it is about developing material and giving young people experiences that are interesting and engaging when discussing pensions. Facts and figures are not going to get people interested in saving. People do not give a monkeys about pension product features or investment options they care about themselves and their own lives. FACT!

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