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Pensions industry should help people "engage" with pensions

The pensions industry should be helping people "understand and engage with" their pensions, according to pensions minister Ros Altmann

Speaking at the National Association of Pension Funds (now rebranded to the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association) annual conference in Manchester, Altmann said there are three areas for pensions experts to be considering. "Firstly, communication. How can we help people to understand pensions?" she asked. "Then simplification. How can we stop so much of this complexity? Lastly there is timing. There is a lot to do."

Another discussion at the event, chaired by HR magazine's deputy editor Jenny Roper, covered gamification in the industry, and its potential as a pensions communication and engagement tool. Dermot Courtier, head of group pensions at Kingfisher, demonstrated a game designed for his employees that they can play to see how much they could save before their retirement.

AHC CEO Peter Nicholas explained some of the biology behind how the games affect us. "There's a wonderful drug called dopamine," he said. "It gets released when you're being rewarded and games can tap into that."

Simplifying pensions guidance through the use of 'robo-advice' – online pensions tools such as calculators and websites – was discussed in another panel. Jonathan Watts-Lay of WEALTH at work noted there is an important distinction between pensions guidance and pensions advice. "Guidance talks about what you could do," he said. "Advice is telling you what you should do. It's important to recognise that distinction."

"These changes don't happen overnight," concluded Altmann. "But we've got to start somewhere, and we're all on that journey. We need to engage with helping people enjoy a richer later life."