Martin Palmer: Building a platform for success

Corporate platforms are a major buzzword in workplace savings.

This industry forum is supplied by Friends Life

Corporate platforms can really revive an employer’s benefits provision and have been a big buzzword in workplace savings for some time. They allow employers to offer a range of financial benefits and investment options, such as pensions, Isas and investment accounts, which better meet the varying needs of employees. But what does an employer need to consider when thinking about implementing a corporate platform?

What do you want to achieve?

Setting a clear objective for your corporate platform in the context of your benefits strategy should be the first step.

In our experience, employers choosing corporate platforms are often looking to build a benefits package that helps to clearly distinguish them in their market. They want to offer more attractive savings and benefits propositions, targeted at each of the different age or demographic groups in their workforce.

How should I spread my benefits spend to achieve the desired return on investment?

It is important to underline that the platform gives employers a choice too. What savings vehicles do you include?

Which members of staff will be offered the platform? It gives employers a renewed ability to differentiate their benefits offerings, both when compared to their competitors and internally by giving high earners or graduate talent an enhanced reward package.

How can I ensure that my new corporate platform translates into better uptake and therefore appreciation of employees’ benefits?

Launch information and ongoing education for members is crucial here. The growth of corporate platforms will change how employers engage with employees about their benefits. It is therefore essential that any corporate platform offering is backed up with a range of tools and education that empower members to take control.

Can corporate platforms be a successful pensions auto-enrolment solution?

Auto-enrolment means that most companies will see a significant increase in the cost of benefits provision. Facing that fact, it is best to make sure this investment is actually appreciated by your employees and a corporate platform offers you this opportunity. Corporate platforms should be auto-enrolment ready, keeping the considerable administrative overhead to a minimum.

How can I make sure my members are aware of the different benefit options available to them?

The key here is that a corporate platform really puts the employee in control of the way they save. Instead of everything being locked away until retirement, they can use different savings products to fit their individual savings needs. Research shows that employees like to learn about the financial workplace benefits available to them in a variety of ways, from face to face through literature to online, and it is important to facilitate this. But it is also important to use a variety of methods to encourage younger workers to engage with their benefits through:
Case studies: these enable individuals to compare their financial decisions with their peer group.

Interactive tools: examples here are workplace savings selector, calculator, risk profiler, investment analysis tools and forecasters.

Proactive alerts: sent by the platform based on employee behaviour to help drive take-up.

For further information, contact me

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Martin Palmer is head of corporate benefits marketing at Friends Life

Read more articles from the Workplace Savings Quarterly