Employee Benefits Awards 2011: Most effective pensions strategy


Institution of Civil Engineers entered by Secondsight

The Institution of Civil Engineers Group dealt with the closure of its final salary pension scheme in a fair and responsible way, while taking into account employees’ negative reactions to the changes. Generous employer-funded contributions were offered for members to sweeten the pill for defined benefit (DB) members moving into the organisation’s group personal pension (GPP).

After discussions with trustees, the consultation period on the changes was extended and concessions were made, including the retention of a link to final pensionable salary earnings; an enhanced transfer-in rate for any money from an existing DC pension (0.40%); and better final pensionable salary earnings for DB members. The annual management charge on the GPP was reduced to 0.75% from 1%. This entrant agreed to pay the difference (0.25%) in fees; which would part fund the advice and education to employees.

A range of communication techniques were used including presentations, workshops and meetings. In addition, committees, workshops, focus groups and ‘internal communication champions’ were used to communicate the changes to staff. Employees also had access to a website where they could access pension calculations and values.

The judges were particularly impressed by the fantastic results, which showed that 80% of members, for the first time in their lives, were fully aware of what their retirement income would be. Almost 75% of employees are now in the pension scheme, representing an increase of more than 60%. One judge said that the way in which this entrant handled such major changes to its pension provision was not only ‘fair and responsible’ but also throughly
inclusive of employees’ views and feedback.


Capital One entered by Secondsight
After introducing auto-enrolment and auto-increases, this entrant went one step further and increased employer-funded contributions by 1% or 2%. It took a fun approach to communicating the contribution increase to staff, using a character called Pensions Pete.

Ernst and Young, Ernst and Young Retirement Benefits Plan
The firm has an impressive communication strategy and its approach to helping staff manage their investment stood out. Its investment fund platform sees contributions directed to fund managers using ‘straight through processing’ technology.

Northern Rock, Your Money, Your Future – Getting started in the new Northern Rock 2011 Pension Scheme
By replacing its final salary offering with a money purchase scheme, Northern Rock aligned its pension provision with the needs of the business returning to the private sector. It ensured staff understood the impact of moving from DB to DC.

Oracle, [email protected] entered by Secondsight
Oracle staff can use flex to increase contributions and direct parts of their bonus or commission into the pension, and 50% of employer NI savings through salary sacrifice go into the scheme.

Pret A Manger, Pret’s Group Pensionentered by Bluefin
Pret A Manager launched its first employer-funded pension scheme in the height of the recession. Imaginative communications and employee involvement included informal sessions, and potato characters were a key part of the scheme’s brand.

Read more about the Award winners