An interactive and hands-free technology that allows savers to track how much they have invested into their retirement pots has been launched by Smart Pension.
The Smart Pension ‘skill' has been made available free to some 80,000 employers and almost half a million members, and can be accessed on Amazon's Echo family of home hub smart speaker devices (Echo, Echo Dot, Echo Spot and Echo Show) via the skills feature or directly via the Alexa phone and tablet app.
The incentive behind the platform was to create technology to enable savers to see all of their retirement pots in one place at the same time, giving them a greater awareness of their assets and how to plan for their retirement.
This means Smart Pension members will be able to stay up-to-date with their savings using a number of simple voice commands such as ‘how much do I have saved?' and ‘how much am I paying in contributions?', and will also be able to request summaries, investment reports and update their contribution percentages.
According to the pension provider, once changes are made to contributions via the app, the account-holder and employer will be immediately notified by email, and all changes are easily reversible.
Smart Pension co-founder Will Wynne said: "The pensions industry is a dinosaur which has seen very little innovation for decades - it's time for pensions to catch up with innovations in banking and the broader tech ecosystem.
"Auto-enrolment has given the industry a unique opportunity to engage with a new generation of savers, but if it's to succeed long term, it must develop a very different conversation, because it's a very different saving mentality."
Wynne added: "Digital financial tools like this are the first step towards making saving for retirement part of our everyday lives, eventually making pensions as accessible as online banking and saving for the future as compelling as a Fitbit challenge."
In Australia, enrolment into a pension fund has been mandatory for than 20 years, and many pension providers websites and fintech apps allow savers to check their superannuation accounts, make voluntary contributions, select different investment options, or consolidate pots accrued from different jobs into one.
Wynne commented: "That is the future, where the Government's pensions dashboard initiative and open banking enable efficient, secure flow and consolidation of financial data and assets.
"Of course, with added visibility comes added scrutiny of bad habits such as lack of transparency and excessive transaction fees, which may mean many providers shy away from such developments.
"That said we have had a lot of interest from forward-thinking, financial institutions interested in collaborations around our evolving and disruptive approach to the fintech space. Expect to see more about this in the near future."
The application asks members to verify their identity and then confirms any changes. Once complete, members receive an email confirming those changes and so does the person who manages the scheme.
Once the Smart Pension skill is enabled, anyone with access to the members' Amazon Alexa account, via mobile phone or via an Amazon Echo device, would be able to request information on their pension. For this reason, the pension provider suggests the Smart Pension skill should not be added to Amazon Echo accounts available to the public. Additionally, the provider said it will be releasing a PIN feature in coming weeks which will enable additional privacy.
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