Planning employee financial wellbeing activities in the workplace

When you listen to politicians make big speeches, you may notice they will often make three points to emphasise a message: ‘I believe this country can be great again, if we blah, blah and blah!’ This is often referred to as the ‘power of three’ and there are lots of references in history attesting to this theorem’s effectiveness.

In my life, some of the very best things have come in threes:

  1. Bounty Trios: when you worship at the altar of the father, the son and the holy confectioner like I do, it was a majestic moment when someone in R&D said ‘I know, let’s make a bigger Bounty with three yummy units in one pack’. This coconut-loving chocoholic would like to salute that person.
  2. Bananarama: my mid-teenage years were in the early 1980s.
  3. The original Star Wars Trilogy (episodes IV, V and VI for the pedants, not I, II and III): the newer films have been pretty good to be fair, registering high 8s and 9s from me, but the original three all scored 11/10 at least!

What has this got to do with planning your financial education and wellbeing activities?

Well, back in the day, before the RDR in 2012, companies like Smash & Grab Corporate Adviser Ltd used to make very loud noises about being everything an employer might need. The pension provider within this scenario was often held at arm’s length from the HR Director. ‘We will provide everything you need from administration, to new joiner packs, to the on-site activity’. In reality the on-site activity meant turn up at 10.00am, see potential new joiners every 20 minutes, sign them up, persuade them to increase their contributions, get letters of authority to review older plans and see what else you could sell them. Then finish at 4.00pm and saunter back to the office with £5,000-£10,000 worth of potential commission in your bag and think ‘Blimey, I’m good!’

This gravy train involved making sure that the pension provider never actually got to speak to the decision makers. Or at least, if they were allowed in, they were firmly briefed in the car park prior to entry into the client’s office about what not to say, and policed by the adviser thereafter.

So what was the corporate adviser trying to prevent the provider from doing?

It turns out that multi-million pound organisations like Aviva, Aegon, Scottish Widows, L&G and Zurich have thought long and hard about how to engage employees. They have actually spent more in this area than the entire annual turnover of Smash & Grab Ltd. Many of their propositions now include the following:

  1. Worksite financial education delivery teams
  2. Bespoke employee communication materials
  3. Online functionality for individual member access, including user guides
  4. Life planning calculators and supporting video content
  5. Apps and much more

I am aware of cases where the corporate adviser is still charging for new joiner packs and administration services. I am also aware of an adviser’s award-winning ‘education and engagement’ submission, where the provider actually did the vast majority of the work. So why not have a three-way relationship with your consulting advisory firm and the provider? When planning a financial education programme, see what exists in your provider’s box of tricks before you commit to paying for anything in addition. If your corporate adviser insists on keeping it to a two-way relationship, show them door.


This article was first published with REBA on 24 February 2017


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