Gerald Eve’s open dialogue around decumulation helps employees plan for retirement

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Property consultant Gerald Eve has nine offices in the UK and employs 480 staff, with an average of eight employees a year approaching retirement. Being open about retirement is one of the cornerstones of its approach to decumulation.

Sarah Draper, HR director, says: “In some organisations, there is still a stigma about retirement or talking about retirement, but we want to have grown up conversations and put plans in place. It’s a very positive experience for us.

“We have very open conversations with our employees during their performance appraisals. We ask managers to talk about retirement with employees, asking them what their aspirations are. The employee can then talk to HR and the pension company for help.”

Pensions consultant Hargreaves Lansdown provides Gerald Eve with a financial wellbeing programme which includes workshops where topics like decumulation are covered, as well as one-to-one advice and targeted communications.

Employees have access to a retirement calculator, which shows them different models, their own pension dashboard, and an online self-service page where they can sign up for workshops and one-to-one advice.

“People are very interested in how they invest their money,” says Draper. “I think it’s very important to ensure they can make financial decisions for themselves and their families, and can ease themselves into retirement without worrying about having enough to live on. It also means we can plan well for their replacements.”

The decumulation phase is also a good time for employees to take advantage of flexible working, Draper adds. “Flexible working is often deemed [to be for those with] families only, but why not provide it for everyone? We talk about the possibility of flexible working and dropping down hours with employees coming up to retirement.

“So, some people may want to work four or three days a week, and then drop down to one and a half days to help ease them into retirement. We have one person who works three days a week and for the other two days looks after his grandchildren. As a business, you have to reflect what is happening in society.”