Defined benefit (DB) schemes need to deploy different communications methods if members are to understand options such as transfers to defined contribution (DC) schemes.
Speaking at the NAPF Conference, Aon Hewitt partner Matthew Arends said that while transfer quote requests had risen since the 2014 Budget less than 1% of members had actually taken up the option.
This differs markedly from Aon's experience of conducting bulk exercises which show a take up of between 10-30%.
"I don't think these figures tally," he said. "Are only 1% of people better off by transferring out of their DB scheme? Members do not feel well enough informed about their options at retirement."
Arends referred to research that showed 40% of schemes who provide cash equivalent transfer values to members also provide access to independent financial advice. Despite this, take up of this advice remains low.
He advocates DB schemes adopt a wider range of methods to engage members. He said that on average DC schemes deploy seven different media to engage with members whereas DB schemes do less.
"I think methods such as telephone and online chat facilities as well as online modellers will work for those who don't necessarily feel comfortable engaging with an IFA," he said. "We have also seen robo advice gaining traction in places such as the US and they could be used more here. I think schemes need to consider all the options."
He asked the audience to vote on whether they would consider using these "middle ground" support methods for DB members. Almost 58% said they had no interest in going down this route while almost 27% said they would be somewhat likely to. The remainder said they were already providing access to such methods.
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