by MICHAEL KLIMES, wsandb.co.uk
Michael Klimes reveals how retail giant Kingfisher has used digital platforms to engage members and communicate the importance of saving for retirement.
Kingfisher began its pensions engagement project in earnest in March 2013 as part of its auto-enrolment process and it blossomed from there.
The group includes B&Q and Screwfix and the scheme has a combined 36,000 members in its defined benefit (DB) and a defined contribution (DC) plans. The final salary scheme was closed in 2012, with the DC arrangements put in place for new members.
Since then it has auto-enrolled members and is focused on helping to educate them using technology.
Speaking at the National Association of Pension Funds annual conference, Kingfisher head of group pensions Dermot Courtier explained how the retail giant communicated the concept of AE to its employees and how it then built on this success.
“We used a mixture of modes of communication with our people but what I would call fairly traditional ones. We got the main message across to all our stores and branches on our short DVDs. And at the time the AE DVDs were about five or six minutes long,” he said.
The firm developed the characters of the Bolt family to make the concept of pensions appealing to members.
“Tommy Bolt was the eligible job holder. Then we had another character as the non-eligible job holder and we had another character as an entitled worker and through all our communications in the letters we sent we introduced the Bolt family,” Courtier added.
Kingfisher used what it learned from the AE launch to craft a five-year education campaign called Saving for your future to help employees beyond AE.
One of the improvements it made was shortening the DVDs. “We slightly rejigged our communications. We got the feedback that four or five minutes for the majority of our membership was too long. We shortened them to about three or four minutes and made simple messages that go out to all the stores and branches.
“What we then did is link it back to our trustee website so if an employee is in one of our team briefings and wants to learn more they can go onto the trustee website. They can see the video again and they can go into a more detailed presentation – that may take about 15 minutes to go through. Then we sign them onto other organisations that can help them and educate them.”
At the end of last year it took the step into gamification of communications, launching the Bolt to the finish app that allows members to play a game and see how much money they may end up with in retirement.
This can be downloaded from Apple and now forms an integral part of the Saving for your future financial education plan. The game is particularly aimed at young members.
“When we were planning to introduce our application it was geared to the younger element solely because they have iPhones and iPads, and trying to engage them in a fun manner to think about saving for the future and think about saving for retirement,” Courtier continued.
“Success was initially measured by the number of hits and access to the website. The trustee website is really where the detailed financial education is and the more hits you get, the more the game is played you get people going through to the website.”
Kingfisher is finding that as it further develops the technology, so its user interaction grows. “Equally the other objective we had was we did see it as phased development of the app; we do see as our technology improves we can make more and more use of it,” said Courtier.
For those questioning the expense of investing in this technology, he added that apps were an affordable option.
“It is not that expensive when you put it against other modes of communication. The biggest expense we have today is actually the postal cost of sending out hard copy material. When you balance that technology spend against posting it is actually fairly competitive. It is on par with a type of general communication spend you would need for certainly a medium sized pension scheme.”
For very small schemes Courtier believes insurers could start to look at providing gaming techniques to help members. “I think the smaller schemes could go to the insurance companies and say ‘look have you got anything along these lines?’ So there are different ways of funding,” he concluded.