Our viewpoint

It's a waiting game:
How can the Pensions Industry catch up?

We’ve all had that one app on our phone that we just can’t stop playing with. In our spare time we pull it up and absent-mindedly fiddle, hoping to reach the next level, or even just to kill some time by catching up on the world and people around us. They’re addictive in their simplicity, and when we stop playing we feel lost without them.

Take, for example the evolution of wellbeing in the workplace apps coming together with HR management systems. They employ gamification by allowing workers to log into their personal dashboards, view their statistics and earn rewards for completing tasks or supporting co-workers – whist at the same time promoting healthy recipes, workouts or relaxation techniques. The next phase of these “employer provided” apps is to look at financial wellness ie what I own, what I owe and what my employer provides – thereby giving a true rounded view to people.

Starbucks has turned its traditional loyalty card programme into an engaging game, including three levels for customers and stars which can be exchanged for free drinks and food. Most importantly it is simple, and takes the already established concept of a loyalty programme and transforms it into something much more interactive and engaging.

The pensions industry could also benefit from technology that encourages engagement like this. That can offer support in simple bitesized chunks, with rewards for completing tasks which might otherwise be thought of as mundane. Although the number of people saving in a pension has increased hugely thanks to auto-enrolment, overall pension savings built up by workers aged 25 to 34 fell from £12.8bn in 2010 to £12.2bn in 2012. Increases in minimum contribution levels will help but we should also look for ways to continue to boost engagement so that young savers maintain a focus on their pension pots and how they can increase their future savings.

Simplicity is essential in order to catch the attention of savers - especially millennials - who have often been communicated to in the form of complex jargon and over-complicated rhetoric when it comes to their pensions.

Every industry we look at is now rethinking its digital strategy to include gamification to keep consumers hooked. The pensions industry can learn from others as to how we can create the most interactive experience for savers. The competitive element that gamification can bring – even when you are competing only with yourself – would also help savers see the benefits of a routine focusing on the long-term, rather than just the here and now.

The more that the pensions industry learns to speak in the language of today’s generations then the more that people will come to appreciate what may be at stake with their retirement savings. The bottom line here is that familiarity and ‘fun’ breed engagement. Let the gamification commence.