Employee Benefits Awards 2009: Most effective pensions strategy

Nutricia The Nutricia Pension and Benefits Scheme (entered by Secondsight)

In this closely-fought category, the judges were impressed by Nutricia’s approach to moving from a self-administered money purchase pension plan to a group personal pension.

They liked the high level of staff involvement throughout the change and the baby food manufacturer’s commitment to offering advice to all staff, which is unusual in this sector. The goals Nutricia wanted to achieve by moving to a GPP included: removing the age-related basis of the scheme; reducing its overall running costs, complexity and trustee liabilities; encouraging more staff to join the plan; and increasing staff retention and appreciation of the scheme.

Under the GPP, it was able to increase contributions for most staff. Twenty senior employees would have been worse off under the new scheme, so Nutricia made a one-off payment equal to three years’ worth of shortfall into their fund. To establish a realistic savings strategy, Nutricia allowed staff to commit to saving a proportion of their future pay rises over a two-, three- or five-year savings period – which impressed the judges. The firm launched a comprehensive communications campaign to ensure employees fully understood the changes.

Nutricia’s results were impressive, sometimes exceeding targets. For example, 70% of staff chose to increase their contributions, against an initial aim of 10%. Overall, pensions take-up has risen from 60% to 80% of the workforce. More than three-quarters of staff are on target to achieve their desired retirement income, compared with 8% before. Nearly all (99%) said their knowledge of pensions had increased.

Pictured (from left): Helen Robinson, regional HR business partner and Dororthy Ewing, regional HR director, both at Nutricia. “It has been a lot of hard work this year, especially to make changes to the pension scheme when people are nervous about their finances and savings,” said Robinson.


  • J Sainsbury JS Self Invested Pension Plan (Sipp)
    J Sainsbury was a strong contender in this category for the launch of its group self-invested personal pension plan (Sipp). The scheme was introduced for the retailer’s 1,500 senior managers to replace an executive pension plan. The judges particularly liked the way “it was about far more than just pensions and was about bringing pensions into the wider benefits spectrum”, by enabling staff to transfer matured share options and sacrifice bonus into the Sip


  • Aegon UK Aegon UK Staff Retirement & Death Benefit Scheme
    An increasing deficit prompted Aegon UK to restructure contribution arrangements for its defined benefit (DB) scheme. Members can now choose from six combinations of accrual rate and normal pensions age, with a corresponding staff contribution. The firm also introduced a salary sacrifice arrangement to the scheme, which has been taken up by about 98% of staff.
  • GeoPost UK GeoPost UK Stakeholder Pension Plan
    Since introducing its stakeholder pension plan, GeoPost UK has successfully increased pensions take-up. The scheme includes innovations, such as auto-enrolment for all new staff after three months’ service. The firm aims to boost takeup further by translating an induction CD for new employees into a number of languages, including Polish and Urdu.
  • Honda of the UK Manufacturing Honda Group (UK) Defined Contribution Scheme (entered by Jelf Group)
    A review of its defined contribution pension scheme resulted in a 400% increase in take-up for Honda of the UK Manufacturing. It also reduced the scheme’s annual management charges by 40% and introduced a salary sacrifice arrangement, which was taken up by 99% of staff. These all support its original aims of boosting employee awareness and membership of the scheme.
  • Linklaters The Linklaters Group Personal Pension Plan (entered by Axa/Winterthur)
    Linklaters overhauled its pension arrangements by introducing salary sacrifice on contributions, a simplified contribution structure and auto-enrolment for new employees. However, staff could opt to stay in the old arrangement if they wanted. Take-up after the changes was higher than expected.