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Digital enablement today, digital innovation tomorrow?

Jonathan Hall

Jonathan Hall

Head of Financial Services

wonders whether, while most pension providers are still thinking about digital enablement today, digital innovation will follow.

2 March 2017

Digital is a major force for disruption in the pensions industry, changing the nature of both proposition and distribution. This was just one of the themes explored at the 2017 Pensions & Life Trends & Data Conference, held at the iconic BAFTA Theatre in the heart of London's West End.

Over 150 decision makers and leading figures within Europe's Life and Pensions industry converged to listen to Pensions industry experts and thought leaders deliver their research and insights into what the future digital model could look like.

Introduced by the BBC's Money Box presenter Paul Lewis, speakers from Celent, Altus, the lang cat and Aquila Heywood put forward some compelling ideas on how to not only survive, but thrive in the changing pensions landscape.

Jamie McGregor from Celent explored the changing demographic in the UK and the lifestyle changes needed to accommodate people living longer than ever before.

The second speaker was Altus' Life and Pensions Director, Martyn Evans. Martyn delivered an insightful presentation around what retirement will look like in 2020.

A big challenge for the Life and Pensions industry is the consumer credit obsession - we don't have a savings culture. Nearly 50% of 21-24 year olds still live with their parents. This is a savings drag for parents.

40% of the UK population will be over 50 by 2020. Will there need to be individual responsibility instead of the state provision? According to Evans, technology is the only weapon we have for making retirement provision viable in the future.

Mark Polson from the lang cat took a no-holds-barred approach to key issues. Namely, that the industry must address its historical challenges to succeed in the future and investigated that technology could help reverse the endemic of building products in every possible size, colour and flavour.

The final industry speaker was Aquila Heywood's CEO, Phillip Walter. A CEO with a wealth of knowledge and experience, he has just completed his first year at Aquila Heywood, driving a new phase of growth and innovation. Phillip pointed out that the Life and Pensions industry lags behind many other industries when it comes to technology adoption. He highlighted the three components for success:

  1. Data Warehousing, analytics and insight
    Data is everywhere but information is scarce. Often the most valuable information comes from combining different sources of data. This is key.
  2. Digital mediums and self-service
    Sophisticated and responsive digital presence – different journeys for different people.
  3. Active engagement
    A full engagement software platform to run all direct communication to customers.
Incorporating web journey sophistication isn't only about building a competitive edge. It's essential to maintain your competitiveness. Having a proper digital face for your customers is no longer a nice to have but essential to survival.

The keynote speech of the event was a talk by the living legend that is Sir Ranulph Fiennes. Speaking to people afterwards, it was plain to see that Sir Ranulph's no-nonsense approach to setting and achieving his goals is the reason he has achieved so much in his life. It was a true lesson in motivation.

The conference was well-received with attendees providing fantastic feedback to us and the other speakers:

  • 'Thank you for the invite to the conference today, the sessions were very interesting and thought provoking. What I find interesting is so much of the direction is moving to aggregation and wealth rather than traditional pensions.'
  • 'Thanks for a superb event. It exceeded my expectations today.'
  • 'Thanks for encouraging us to attend this. I got a lot out of it. It was well run as well. It was particularly interesting and heartening to see equity release get so many mentions in what was a tech forum. That would never have happened ten years ago, let alone five.'
  • 'The level of insight was superb, as were the guest speakers and general organisation of the day. Thank you to all involved.'
  • 'A very illuminating morning. Star of the business presentations was Mark Polson - put a very straightforward point across very engagingly. As for Sir Ranulph Fiennes - what a remarkable man.'
  • 'An overriding theme was consumer engagement and the need for this to be omni-channel - online and human.'
Jonathan Hall is Head of Financial Services at Aquila Heywood, the largest supplier of life and pensions administration software solutions in the UK.

Further Reading