Employee Benefits Awards 2010: Most effective use of financial education in the workplace (Sponsored by Wealth at Work)


Capital One (entered by Secondsight)

Although this entrant focused purely on educating staff on pensions rather than broader financial matters, its phenomenal results won it this category.

The financial firm’s largely young, call centre-based workforce had a poor knowledge of pensions, so Capital One set out two key objectives: to educate employees and to increase pension contributions.

An initial three-hour workshop was run, but the associate partnership (a staff representative body) identified that engagement was low and put forward other methods of engaging staff in pensions and investment choices.

The company put in place a wide variety of channels, including: intranet, email, drop-in sessions, a plain English presentation and individual appointments with independent financial advisers (IFA). It also forced a re-issue of Pin numbers to increase access to the pensions online tool.

All staff were scheduled to attend the plain English presentation to encourage take-up, and the IFA meetings were paid for by Capital One.

Also, a major change was made to the pension scheme: the introduction of a 1% automatic increase programme which meant employee contributions would increase by 1% a year. Although staff could opt out of this, the firm hoped inertia would result in staff increasing their contributions.

Using feedback, the programme was adapted as it was being rolled out. Results show that 76% of staff remained opted in to the 1% automatic increase, pension contributions increased by one-third, and 21% of staff increased their contributions by more than 1%. As many as 62% attended a presentation, of which 25% saw an IFA. Overall, 87% said their pensions knowledge had increased.

Karen Bowes from Capital One said: “We had a vision to increase the amount people saved into their pension scheme. We started by providing them with financial education.”


Runners up
Credit Suisse Identity theft protection (entered by Hewitt Associates)

This entry was very innovative on the specific aspect of adapting identity theft protection into a group benefit for the corporate market, in that it had to comply with several legal and compliance issues. Now this is done, other employers wanting to help staff with personal finance issue may benefit. It is offered at 40% cheaper than the high street market.

Hachette Filipacchi Your choice (entered by Thomsons Online Benefits)
This entry from a media firm focused specifically on educating staff on pensions and insurance. A clearly worked-out communications strategy included the use of drop-in sessions with financial advisers – particularly alongside internal sales of beauty products, which are highly effective at getting staff away from their desks.

Heidrick and Struggles (UK) (entered by Secondsight)
Real commitment from the employer to educate its staff about their pensions. Given the previous low understanding of pensions, the impact of one-to-one advice was big, with 100% of staff taking the opportunity to see an adviser. A judge commented: “While it is a small business, the use of one-to-ones and financial advisers to personalise the approach is worthy of praise.”

Henderson Global Investors
Of all the entries, this one truly looked at financial education in its broadest sense, with a wide range of presentations covering everything from capital gains to tax returns. It targets both junior (less financially sophisticated) to senior (more financially sophisticated) staff. Good use of providers and IFAs to provide relevant advice to expatriates and non-domiciles right through to basic share scheme advice. It will be interesting to see the impact of this strategy when the results become available.

See full list of winners and finalists for the Employee Benefits Awards 2010