Punter Southall Aspire buys stake in employee communications start-up

Stephanie Baxter
clock • 2 min read

Punter Southall (PS) Aspire has bought a significant stake in branding and communications agency Future Kings to bring a new skillset to the pensions market.

It has made the investment because it wants transform how employees engage with workplace savings after finding communications provided by many consultants are inadequate.

PS Aspire believes Future Kings' communications expertise will help employers generate maximum value for money from their investment in providing staff with workplace savings.

PS Aspire's chief executive Steve Butler said his firm wants to look at the pensions market in a different way.

"We wanted to bring a skillset to the market that didn't exist in Punter Southall, and not something we could particularly build ourselves," he said. "We're pension consultants at heart and we can't help that. It's a skillset we wanted to be part of but not integrate into our business."

He warned there is a "real apathy" around pensions in the workforce, and yet with auto-enrolment it is important to engage with employees.

"We're constantly being asked by HR directors ‘how you can help me with this and what am I doing wrong?'."

Butler believes the problem is the way workplace saving is being communicated.

"Pension providers and consultants have tried for years to build communications programmes. Lack of outstanding creative and design expertise underpinning it is one reason why they have failed."

He wants this to change, and thinks a business like Future Kings can provide real value.

"In brochures we talk about needing to treat employees like customers, engaging on lots of different levels in using simple to understand language. Historically pension consultants have written brochures that are very long and very dull, and we want to change that. We want to put a complete fresh spin on this."

Future Kings' design team will work with PS Aspire's consultants on the firm's existing and new clients. The start-up was founded in January and currently employs 10 people with offices in Bristol and London.

This is the first of several planned initiatives and announcements from PS Aspire over the next few months.

Future Kings creative director Steven Anderson said current employee communications seem to be done at the "lowest common denominator", and added:

"This is sometimes down to budgets but also the skillsets of the actual people producing these materials. Sometimes in-house teams may not have come from the same sort of experience that designers and creative directors that we hire."

Future Kings has recruited Jon Kerswell, formerly head of copywriting at AXA Wealth, as well as Lee Nicholls who quit Legal & General where he was head of employer brand.

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