EXCLUSIVE: Ford utilises real-time analytics to increase pensions engagement 


Employee Benefits Reset 2020: Ford UK has been working on a data analytic project for all of its pension plans globally in order to engage and educate its employees. 

On the second day of the Employee Benefits Reset online series on 6 October, Oliver Payne, international pensions and data analytics manager at car manufacturer Ford Motor Company, discussed the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on pensions and how this will accelerate emerging pension trends.

One of the key trends, data analytics, is a project that Ford has been working on for the past three years. Payne explained that, with the help of technology firm Redington, the organisation has created a system that plugs in 3 million items of data across all of Ford’s pension plans around the world. “We are moving away from it taking 18 months for evaluating a pension scheme or taking a long time to get answers for complicated questions,” said Payne. “We now have the technology and the data processors and I feel that we should have much more real-time dashboards and real-time understanding of these complicated questions

“We are just scratching the surface on pensions and data and analytics. As we move forward, we can collect more data and we could do smarter things. As we move into the machine learning space and get further insight around pensions, we’re looking forward and analysing the right stuff rather than the traditional retrospective way of looking at pensions.”

Digital governance is another area that Payne highlighted as an emerging trend: “We’re going to see more virtual trustee meetings. We’ve all been forced to make this work over the last few months. The feedback I’ve had is very positive about those things. It improves the efficiency compared to having to get everyone into a room to get them to travel down please meetings. It’s 2020, we shouldn’t be requiring a physical signature on a piece of paper, and thankfully we’re moving away from that to digital signatures.”

Payne added that employees should be treated the same and not sectioned in to groups. “Don’t pigeonhole people into being a certain type, just because they are younger. Don’t try to be too rigid with the form of pensions and employee savings that you offer, understanding the everyone is different, and not generalising needs.

“Give more options and more flexibility, particularly for younger people; options around workplace savings like Isas instead of pensions  could be really valuable to some people, and lots of flexibility of being able to increase or decrease your contributions. It’s very hard to argue against choice and it can always make things more valuable if it’s done in the right way without increasing the cost for the employer.”