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Interview with Donna Walsh

Head of Proposition Deployment, Standard Life

Since COVID-19 first affected our lives, people are heading online more and more. Standard Life has enhanced its member communication to meet these digital needs, with member data allowing personalised communications.

App usage has seen an increasing trend, and the need to communicate digitally has only accelerated that growth. Standard Life has reported a 72% increase year on year in app usage (as of June 2020). Indeed, thanks in part to new features released over the last few months, its usage has now overtaken that of the pension provider’s online member dashboard.

Many of these members now using the app have come through to Standard Life through a workplace pension, where financial education has always been crucial.

When restrictions from COVID-19 set in, as well as priority access for keyworkers and those affected, the Standard Life team enhanced its tailored digital communication methods with messaging to members based on factors such as age, needs and member experience to date.

This easily digestible information has been invaluable, whether it’s a ‘Stop and Think’ method to inform around market volatility or pension scams; or relevant information and guidance to help members based on their life stage. There is also a new COVID-19 hub, which answers those important questions and also outlines when and where to seek advice.

Tailoring communications for individual members

For Donna Walsh, Head of Proposition Deployment at Standard Life, staying relevant means that the company has to understand member needs. She says: “To do this, we have segmented members into 14 different groups, each with different needs.

“This new programme has enhanced our dynamic, automated communication system, which has transformed the way members interact with us. From encouraging young families to save, to early birthday information packs ahead of key milestones, no matter the ‘member journey’, we can offer tailored messaging that keeps our information relevant”.

The data is based on insights from member engagement levels and surveys, likely financial goals, functional needs and emotional needs. Standard Life’s new client analytics tool incorporates this data, allowing trustees and clients to understand their workforce better, with an online self-serve platform enabling analysis of member segmentation set against the initial 14 models that Standard Life has created.

With millions of savers in the UK looking towards their pension (thanks to auto-enrolment), the finance industry is keenly aware that one size doesn’t fit all.

Donna adds: “With millions of savers in the UK looking towards their pension (thanks to auto-enrolment), the finance industry is keenly aware that one size doesn’t fit all. Many members will not be as pro-active about their retirement as might be required, so engagement is key.”

“Once a member is engaged, though, and logs into their member dashboard, app or calls us, we endeavour to provide them with information and guidance to empower them to take action.” 

One example is the in-scheme drawdown solution for Master Trust, where Standard Life have incorporated guided investment journeys in line with the FCA’s Investment Pathways. Donna adds: “This is to help guide and support members to make an investment decision based on how they intend to drawdown their retirement savings.”

Financial education to help members understand how to maximise their workplace savings

Other steps to offer members financial education include industry initiatives, such as the PLSA Retirement Living Standards. Some are already incorporated into member journeys, such as the ‘How much do you need in retirement?’ tool, which already uses the minimum living standard. Standard Life will be incorporating these in member annual benefit statements and their new retirement income tool soon.

Alongside additional support and webinars, video animations have helped members to understand how their pension works, explain investments as well as retirement options and tools. And, later this year, Standard Life will launch personalised videos on member dashboards, with real time pension data, taking member relevance one step further. 

If you’d like to understand more on how Standard Life can help you or find out more about workplace pensions, please visit standardlifeworkplace.co.uk.

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