As Trustees we know there’s a need to communicate with our membership throughout their pension lifecycle; from the new joiner in the early stages of their working life right through to retirement. However, communication is never easy, even when what is to be communicated is simple.


Imagine then trying to tell people about pensions.

Trustees engage the services of administrators who are at the forefront of the member experience. It is the administrator that the member comes into contact with most often when dealing with pensions.

Trustees should work hard to ensure the customer experience is relevant and responsive.

From the member’s perspective, when they ask simple questions, such as:

  • Why should I be in a Pension Scheme?
  • What do I get when I retire?

They may receive complicated answers to these simple questions.

Often, it is the administrators answering these questions.

Are the administrators competent people who listen and know the provisions of the scheme that they can explain simply?

Do they have helpdesks? Sometimes a backlog and labyrinth style automated system does not help and will put people off.

Recent well publicised events about transfers out of defined benefit schemes remind us that people are driven by their emotions so will make decisions based on how they feel.

Trustees need to build relationships with members, to enable us to understand their views regarding this valuable benefit, and make it easier for them to trust us.

Member nominated trustees know the members and are a useful way of keeping in touch with trustees. Are member nominated trustees doing their job properly?

We should consider other ways to build relationships with members. This in a world increasingly made up of deferred and pensioner members with limited engagement from the employer.

Why answer one question at a time when you can answer many more?

Trustees might consider making a video of them speaking about the scheme.

Social media should be part of the communications strategy, bearing in mind its increasing use in everyday lives.

Trustees might consider creating a weekly or monthly blog or podcast. This would be used to fill any gaps as issues arise. They can monitor website visits, web forums, emails etc.

Tell stories; there are many stories from the industry. The stories can showcase how pensions and lifetime savings touch the lives of ordinary people. Introduce personalities; tell stories of how pensions have changed people’s lives.

Lets think like a newsroom: What are people talking about? Then mirror the story to be relevant to the industry.

Even if we can only say a little or that ‘we will report back later’ on a trending news item; it’s around using language that builds trust. This language will allow us, as trustees, to get closer to our members. It sets the tone that we are part of a partnership.

Instead of saying ‘we assist’, ‘we notify’, or ‘we consider’, say ‘we help’, ‘we tell’. or ‘we think carefully’. Try to use language that combines empathy with trust.

Communication is never easy, however as part of the industry we can work on making it simple.



Shola Salako
Trustee Representative – Dalriada Trustees

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