communicating on the impact of COVID-19 on retirement

COVID-19 has tremendous impact and will likely leave its mark in civilization across the world. The low interest rate and decline in the stock market offer a bad mix for people who are about to retire and cash in on their defined contribution (DC) pensions. Luckily there are solutions on the market that let a customer continue their investment, entirely or partially. We explored a design direction to cope with this.
Jordi Oude Egberink
User Experience Consultant
From doing many projects around pensions and self-service, we know pension is not top of mind to most people. People struggle with financial topics, and more with future ones. A Netspar study towards framing in pension choices shows that the majority (over 90%) has the ‘default’ option. Combined with my experience, this tells me they never made a conscious decision, or did not ‘dare’ to change from default as they did not understand the options. Also, I assume many don’t become aware or motivated enough, to even find the options. 

Best chances of getting the customer engaged is with high relevance to him/her. There are 2 moments most relevant.

  1. Around 20 years before retirement, when the pension investments should dial down in terms of risk (also called life cycle investing).
  2. Nearing retirement.

The choice to continue investing could be integrated in the ‘normal’ communication. 

Example of displaying the current retirement situation with several options to choose from. A carousel offers selections. The goal income is shown in the graph. The red indicates a deficit. The recommended options are clearly marked.  

Example of an option selected. The red deficit is gone. The expected income is shown as well as the goal income.   

visualizing the impact of continued investing

Upon retirement, a customer can choose to buy a fixed income product (annuity) and/or to keep investing, delivering a variable income. This choice has much to do with someone’s risk appetite. Risk appetite is already determined in the accumulation phase with a questionnaire, resulting in an investment allocation and fund selection.

A small addition to this questionnaire would be enough to guide the client in the choice for the decumulation phase. This phase have various ‘degrees of freedom’: combining decumulation with variations of continued investment. Visualizing these provides a complete picture of cause and – projected - effect. 

goals, risk and other pensions  

Adding a retirement income goal to the solution enables you to monitor if the goal is on track. The system can then re-evaluate the user’s preference and risk appetite on a frequent basis.

Of course, for the more complex matters such as risk coverage and fiscal consequences, an adviser can provide added value. A holistic approach can be sought to aggregate other pensions. 

individual pensions

The movement towards a more individual pension (e.g. PEPP legislation) brings the investment risk more towards the end-user. This makes supporting these types of choices in a clear and coherent way more and more important.