Debi O’Donovan: Benefits and HR managers should join the pensions debate

Over in the pensions industry, the talk is all about how incoming choices around pension savings at retirement will affect retirees. They are also discussing how the government will deliver the face-to-face guidance needed to support these wider choices.

Debi O'Donovan editor Employee Benefits 2013

While I am sure there are a few practitioners in benefits and HR departments who are taking a keen interest, the vast majority are probably simply getting on with their myriad daily tasks and leaving the pensions experts to argue it out.

But there is part of me that wishes benefits and HR managers did have time to give this more consideration and add their voice to this lively debate.

After all, these are the people who will talk to employees coming up to retirement, plan flexible retirement policies and face staff who are daunted by the choices they must make.

Pension savings strategies and retirement products will need to adapt to meet next April’s new legislation, but, for the most part, these are still only a glint in many a pension provider’s eye.

Simply letting the financial services industry and politicians have all the say, however well intentioned, makes me cautious about whose best interests will be served first.

I am sure no one will set out to do employees down, but the bottom line is that the financial services industry does feel the need to keep itself in business and make a profit. So any lobbying for a solution will protect that, first and foremost.

I am pleased to note that the government will be running a pilot of its proposed free at-retirement guidance with a well-known workplace financial education firm, so I trust the employers involved will bat for all of us to ensure the conclusion works for employers of all sizes and sectors and staff of all grades, working patterns and job types.

After all, it is in the workplace where most of this will play out.

Which leads me to mention our cover story this month. Here we look at the benefits suppliers that have broadened their offerings to adapt to changes in legislation and business needs.

The Employee Benefits 100 Club members alerted us to the trend of suppliers that previously offered a single product, to widen their offering. Although this has always happened in our industry, it does feel as if it has accelerated in recent years. To use that old cliché: ‘change is the new normal’.

Debi O’Donovan


Employee Benefits 

Twitter: @DebiODonovan