EXCLUSIVE: Starr Companies sees 90% member engagement with new pension scheme

EXCLUSIVE: As of May 2019, global insurance and investment organisation Starr Companies has reported 90% engagement among the 180 members of its workplace pension, which was launched in October 2018.

The organisation’s new group pension, provided by Hargreaves Lansdown, was launched six months ago in response to the need for staff to take a more active approach to planning for retirement.

Starr Companies felt that employees were struggling to access information regarding their previous pension arrangement, and found that only 8% were choosing their own investments. According to Hargreaves Landsdown’s ongoing monitoring of scheme data since the launch six months ago, this number has risen to 29%.

In addition, 85% of Starr Companies employees are currently paying into their pension at more than the base contribution level, 47% have logged in to view their pension online, and 39% have transferred an old pension.

The new scheme provides access to other workplace savings options, including individual savings accounts (Isas), lifetime Isas (Lisas) and a general investment account. Starr Companies reports that 8% of employees are now saving alongside their pension.

The scheme was launched in October using bespoke email communications, as well as seven 40-minute presentations, followed by the opportunity for one-to-one meetings allowing staff to ask further questions. These meetings were attended by 104 employees.

The new pension scheme also provides Starr Companies with the ability to create tailored communications campaigns, such as messaging about contributions around the time of scheduled pay reviews, while Hargreaves Lansdown also lets members access research-led information about the best options for investing.

Starr Companies employees will also be able to take advantage of an ongoing series of financial wellness sessions, covering a range of topics relevant to them, to be determined through a combination of staff feedback and engagement data from the scheme itself.

Nathan Long, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “[Starr Companies’] considered, deliberate launch has boosted the number of their employees taking control of their own retirement.

“Explaining the basics of personal financial planning well is the most important piece of the pension puzzle, but is all too often ignored.”

Keith Baker, payroll and benefits manager at Starr Companies, added: “We became increasingly aware of the need for people in the UK to take personal control of their own retirement plans, but our existing pension didn’t provide the support we felt our people deserved. We wanted access to great information, the ability to speak with experts face-to-face and also support for our higher earners who were getting snarled up in the complexity of the tapered annual allowance.

“Our initial aim was to drive higher awareness of the workplace pension, but we soon realised the switch of scheme had delivered a far greater prize. We expected engagement to build over time, but we’ve found ourselves starting from a real position of strength.”