Voices from Accenture Public Service

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I’ve written about the need for retirement coaching in the past. Specifically, based on Accenture research, we know most individuals rely on their employer or their own research efforts to make critical financial decisions. We also know that’s likely not enough. In fact, nearly 84 percent of respondents to our survey said they wanted access to retirement coaching. What’s more, they want that coaching to be available throughout their working life – from hire to retire and beyond.

It underlines the need for pension agencies to rethink how they engage with their members. The priority? Moving to a much more proactive and personalized approach. And where retirement coaching is concerned, they’re ideally positioned to provide support that really benefits their members.

As trusted providers with no vested interest in “selling” financial assets, the information and support that pension agencies can offer their members will be viewed as credible and impartial.  This is where pension agencies have a distinct advantage and can play a valuable role. So, why aren’t they offering that type of experience?

I understand, from a fiduciary standpoint, the dilemma posed by providing financial advice. But I’m not suggesting pension entities should do that. Instead, I’m proposing that they provide some level of support to help members understand how much they’ll need, beyond their defined benefit or defined contribution, to retire affordably.  After all, the difference between barely “surviving” and truly “thriving” in retirement, is a matter of planning and saving. And, as their trusted provider, pension agencies can help their members assess the gap between where they are today and where they need to be – and what they might do to address any shortfall.

We know there’s a real need for this new kind of member experience. Our research shows that although most people feel they’ll have enough money saved to retire by age 65, only one in ten feel they have enough to retire now. People view retirement as their next career, and they want help preparing for it.

So, what can pension agencies do to help their members plan for a smooth and financially secure future? There are various options, but they share a common purpose: providing relevant services that meet members’ individual needs. For organizations with limited financial or technological resources, providing retirement counseling or connecting workers to external information sources is a good place to start. For those capable of doing more, digital technologies can be indispensable in creating a more confident, retirement-ready workforce.

If you’re ready to explore digital, you might consider offering any or all of the following:

  • Webinars. More than half (54 percent) of survey respondents say they would like to attend a webinar for retirement education, and less than one in five (14 percent) already have.
  • Mobile pension app. Seven in 10 respondents either have used or say they would use a mobile app to receive retirement information.
  • Digital retirement coach. Almost half of the respondents (46 percent) said they would like to use a digital retirement coach, but only 11 percent have been offered one. Services like chatbots and self-service portals can be an effective way to enable members to request and receive digital coaching and advice – on their terms.

Organizations that provide the tools to educate and assist their members with retirement planning – and augment their own employees so they can pick up where digital services leave off – are likely to reap a variety of tangible rewards. These include more active member engagement and better customer service ratings. Additionally, by investing in the retirement success and financial wellbeing of employees, organizations can build loyalty and trust and a stronger foundation for their reputation and overall mission success.

To sum up, members want more retirement coaching and they want their pension agency to provide that service. By acting as a trusted advisor and coaching their members, pension agencies can help them to pursue a better retirement outcome. And with digital channels providing a cost-effective way of providing these new, personalized experiences, it’s a “win-win” for everyone!

Now, the only question remaining: is your organization ready to take up the challenge?

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Please message me or leave a comment below.

To learn more, visit www.accenture.com/pension and follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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