Marriott Hotels considered pension fund choice in auto-enrolment decisions

Marriott Hotels auto-enrolled its 8,000 full-time employees in early 2013.

Mariott Hotel pension fund choice

Its staging date was April 2013, but it postponed auto-enrolling its workforce until 1 July 2013 with the help of its adviser, Berkeley Burke, which also manages the organisation’s private medical insurance and group life assurance .

Sarah Newsome, manager, employment law/compensation and benefits, Marriott Europe at Marriott Hotels, says: “Fund choice was a factor. It wasn’t the most significant factor, but it was certainly a factor because we didn’t want a provider that had hundreds of different funds. We wanted to make sure there was an array of funds, but not just this mass of them that caused confusion.

“Anyone I know who is involved in pensions in any way says there is so much choice, and unless you’re an absolute expert, it really is very difficult for them to make that choice. I would imagine many employees just opt for the default automatically because they just don’t know where to start looking when there’s a huge array of choice.”

Marriott first considered eight pension providers for auto-enrolment, then whittled these down to three before choosing B&CE. Newsome says: “It was the fact that there were six funds. It’s a much more limited selection, which I think is an advantage to our employees.”

Newsome and her team have created a comprehensive communications strategy to underpin Marriott’s auto-enrolment programme.

Before its staging date, this involved Newsome presenting webinars for hotel-based general managers and leadership teams. She then sent bespoke presentations for them to deliver at town hall meetings, detailing what the regulations meant and how they affected employees.

Each employee also received a personalised letter from Marriott Hotels and B&CE explaining the ramifications of auto-enrolment and what to expect.

Berkeley Burke also spelt out the organisation’s strategy at each of the group’s 55 hotels. 

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The results speak for themselves: Marriott’s opt-out rate is about 7%.

Newsome advises fellow employers to consider the demographics of their workforce before deciding on their fund range. “We have a very mixed demographic as a hotel company, so we really wanted to go for a simpler approach and make it easier for our whole population to understand [our proposition], but still give choice for those who wanted it,” she says.