Vulnerability and pensions

Understanding what drives people’s pension choices

Pensions – in the “boring but important” category? Not so, when you delve into the behaviours and vulnerabilities behind people’s pension decisions…

The challenge put to us by the Head of Customer Office at a leading savings and investment company, was to help them understand more about why relatively high numbers of pension customers were choosing to cash in their pensions at the age of 55 – as soon as they are legally entitled to – despite the tax implications and the risks of running out of money in the long-term. What are the vulnerabilities driving people’s choices?

Cue three days with Citizens Advice Edinburgh, learning not only from their expert advisors – whose stories about people who’d suffered a chronic illness, a debilitating accident or a costly addiction brought financial vulnerability to life – but also directly from Citizens Advice clients, who focused on the difficulties they face when dealing with pension providers.

We learnt how interacting with pension companies can in itself make people feel overwhelmed, about the importance of getting the language right and about trust issues. We tested a customer journey experience that was in development and we co-created, with Citizens Advice users, a prototype for a vulnerable customer user experience.

In doing so, we formed a group of people within the business with a shared experience, who continue to work together and who are using the insights to contribute to the long-term vulnerable customer strategy.

“The work with Three Hands and Citizen Advice Edinburgh has been enlightening for the business; there is nothing more powerful than engaging with customers and charities to understand their needs. Our role is to understand and empathise with the circumstances our customers are confronted with every day and the process we went through gave us the confidence to go the extra mile to support them.”

Head of Customer Office