The Carter Jonas pension and investment plan was established with Hargreaves Lansdown in 2014. There are currently 686 members. The default fund is the Schroder Managed Balanced fund, but engagement is good and 22% select their investments.
Claire Matthews, head of human resources, says: “Hargreaves Lansdown has worked closely with our HR team to promote continuous engagement over the past year. Our 12-day pension roadshow went virtual, with both presentations and one-to-ones available, and accessible to all. We had a surprisingly good uptake of this offer, on a par with 2019.”
The team has put together a varied programme of communication including webinars on financial wellbeing, market updates, end of tax year planning and pension consolidation. Employees have also been given two opportunities to adjust their flexible benefits package to suit their life stage in 2020, in direct response to Covid-19 (Coronavirus).
For the first half of 2021, the estate agency is running a series of monthly webinars, chaired by the management board, with a guest speaker on mental health and wellbeing topics such as how to spot the signs of poor mental health, and connective intelligence for more cohesive teams in a virtual world.
“The theme we have seen throughout the pandemic is concern about investments and the stock market,” says Matthews. “Surprisingly members have continued contributing and we have not seen a large increase in opt-outs or payment holidays.”
One-to-one meetings have always been the most popular form of support for how to get on track for a comfortable retirement, and last year 114 were held over Zoom.
“The biggest surprise has been how engaged members have stayed with their pensions throughout the pandemic,” says Matthews. “Given the pressure on day-to-day finances and the impact of furlough, we expected to see a decline in engagement but instead we have seen increases in the majority of our engagement metrics. Overall, we have had an increase of employee engagement from 2019 to 90% of Carter Jonas people engaged with the Hargreaves Lansdowne scheme, compared to an average engagement score of 79%, and 74% within the property sector. 84.2% of our members have online access with 68.3% accessing their account in the past 12 months.”