Why pensions and technology are a match made in heaven

August 26, 2016

The Competition and Markets Authority's recent investigation into retail banking has triggered discussions of a new banking revolution, giving a mandate for change and setting a deadline for banks to up their technology game.

It raises the question of what comes next; what will the implications of the shake-up lead to for the rest of the financial services sector?

With seismic changes in regulation, the pensions industry is due an overhaul when it comes to consumer technology. People need help to demystify the multitude of options available to them and to become more engaged with their long-term savings.

Millennials in particular may struggle to visualise their financial situation as a holistic picture and to gauge how much money they will need to put aside to meet different financial needs and expenses in later life.

GAMIFICATION OFFERS HUGE POTENTIAL

'Gamification' is one strategy increasingly being used in financial services to help consumers with this.

Although often dismissed a buzzword, the premise of gamification as a tool for graphically visualising income and possible outcomes offers huge potential in the wealth and pensions space.

Allowing consumers to engage with and even enjoy financial planning through gamified software is something all pension providers should aspire to.

One step short of gamification, but in a move towards making it easier for consumers to engage with their savings, developments are underway on a pension dashboard.

By being able to look at all their pension pots on one platform, consumers will be able to gauge the money they've built up for retirement so they are better placed to plan for the future.

An industry-wide finance dashboard which can go further than those already available would be a great next step. Having all this information at their fingertips would help to empower consumers to make more informed decisions on the right moves for their overall financial wellbeing.

PENSION DASHBOARD NEXT STEP

A dashboard allowing individuals to input personal financial details, priorities and goals would facilitate truly bespoke solutions to be developed, along with a broader tailored financial plan to suit an individual's needs.

Indeed, providers could offer rewards to customers who reach financial targets, incentivising financial wellness as Fitbits are incentivising exercise - a Wealthbit, if you like.

This technology-driven dashboard approach would make forming a basic plan simpler and allow consumers to manage short- and mid-term financial priorities, such as buying a first home, alongside the long-term need to save for retirement.

For a millennial, retirement income may seem a low priority, but by utilising the power of technology it could still be visualised on their dashboard while they are controlling the levers in terms of where their money is allocated.

For those at retirement or already retired, levers could be pushed and pulled to create their own blended pension.

For example they could have an annuity for the security of a guaranteed income, and combine this with the flexibility of drawdown or a lump sum to seek out gains from investment or fund a large one-off expense.

Some of the products already exist; it's now a matter of the industry making them accessible to consumers.

PENSION INDUSTRY MUST REVOLUTIONISE

Take, for example, car insurance - if someone manages to save money on one product than they should be able to drag and drop those savings into their pension pot or number one priority pot, seeing the best product out there for them.

Or, say a customer has managed to reach a target they've set and save for a house, product providers could then be looking to offer them appropriate mortgage options.

From an industry point of view, this change will enable greater reach among consumers and create the ideal platform to provide products that meet a consumer's individual needs.

In particular, millennials expect services and updates to come to them, through their phone or tablet, and expecting the same of their financial life is the natural next step.

Within the next five years, the pensions industry needs to take note and be ready to revolutionise, through gamification, pension dashboards and participation in wider financial dashboards.

Andrew Storey is sales director at eValue, a leading technology provider for the financial services industry.

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