Barnett Waddingham reveals results of pension schemes and technology survey

Published by Paul Hamilton on

Research by Barnett Waddingham, the UK’s leading independent firm of actuaries, administrators and consultants, has revealed that 96% of pension professionals believe that technological advances over the past 5 years have been of overall benefit to the running of pension schemes.

The firm’s Pension Schemes and Technology research surveyed over 80 pension professionals at the recent NAPF annual conference and was designed to gauge the attitudes of trustees, pension managers, finance directors and other industry professionals towards technological advancements and their impact on pension schemes.

"It is clear that there is still work to do across the industry to ensure that people can use technology in the way that is best for them."

Other interesting figures to be revealed in the survey include:

  • When asked “Do you use tablets for board meeting papers?” less than a third of respondents (29.5%) stated that all board meeting papers are electronic. The majority (60%) want to use electronic papers, but are either unable to, or doing so on an individual basis, rather than using a common approach for all trustees. Only 10% had no appetite for electronic meeting papers. 
  • When asked to rate what the most important use for technology in pension schemes is, 44.5% rated “streamline processes to reduce scheme expenses” as the most important.
  • Nearly three quarters (73%) of respondents were aware of online actuarial tools, but less than 10% had used such tools themselves, and around one-sixth (16%) believe “they often sound impressive, but I don’t use them much in practice”. Of those that were in favour of such tools, the majority felt that using the tool as part of consultancy advice works well.
  • Of those surveyed, 29% believe that online modelling tools will be the main driver for members’ decisions about how to draw DC benefits in the majority of cases, while 40% said that they will be the main driver, but a significant proportion of members will also get face to face advice. Only 1% of respondents said that modelling tools are not an effective way of communicating with members.

Paul Hamilton, partner at Barnett Waddingham said: “It’s promising to see that the vast majority of people that took part in our survey at the NAPF annual conference believe that technological advances have benefited pension schemes, but it is clear that there is still work to do across the industry to ensure that people can use technology in the way that is best for them.

“The vast majority of respondents appeared interested in electronic meeting papers, but less than a third of schemes are doing so in a coordinated way. There are many similar, but different online actuarial tools available now, with no clear consensus on how these should be used. Our tool, Illuminate, focusses on specific tasks that trustees and scheme sponsors need to do, and being one part of our advice, and is mainly used as part of our advice to help illustrate complex ideas.”