21 December 2018
As tech gifts top wishlists this festive season, Laura Myers looks at PenTech to see how far digital innovation has come in making pensions saving easier.
Christmas gifts this year are set to be more tech-centric than ever. Wireless headphones that help you sleep; Increasingly sophisticated virtual assistants that complete household chores or answer questions; or FitBits tracking personal fitness. The list of desirable tech for Christmas 2018 goes on.
Come the New Year, I expect even more people will be turning up their heating from their phones while they’re out or asking Alexa to order more milk, surely checking in on and topping up pensions should be just as simple? No new sophisticated gadgetry required: just well-designed smartphone apps that connect to technology more and more of us have.
This sounds sensible and straightforward but the app agenda is still a work in progress. Over the past few years we have seen increased investment in digital innovation from some of the major pensions providers, and there are a small number who now enable members to view their pots and make extra contributions at the swipe of a finger.
But this still isn’t the norm: not all schemes and providers offer such apps. Perhaps that’s to be expected for those at the lower-cost, no-frills end of the spectrum, but far more could be done across the board. Like the Pensions Dashboard, technology innovation in pensions something I believe the industry should be pushing for, to give all Future Pensioners access as well as visibility wherever their pension is invested. Viewing your pot and changing your contributions or investments easily shouldn’t be some far away innovation but should be as simple as looking at your bank account.
Demand from Future Pensioners is certainly there – our recent YouGov poll found that over a fifth of 18-44 year olds singled out smartphone apps allowing for easy pension top-ups as the digital tool that would most encourage them to save more for retirement (see graph).
Vision of things yet to come
We may not yet be at a stage where Future Pensioners are asking Alexa to top up their pensions while they’re cooking the dinner, that’s where we should be headed. As we’ve argued before, making pensions simple is the key to engagement, and the widespread availability of apps is the next step. Pensions can’t afford to be left behind in the race to make everything easier, better, faster: the only way to engage Future Pensioners is to do it on their terms, and that means seamless, intuitive technology. It’s an exciting vision of the future for our industry – now we just need to make it a reality.
About the survey
All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2008 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 22nd - 23rd August 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+).
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