A consortium of some of the UK’s largest defined benefit (DB) schemes has partnered with Quietroom to develop a suite of free-to-use GMP equalisation member communications available to all schemes.
The working group of schemes - the so-called DB Comms Super Group - involved in the collaboration that commissioned and funded the work were BA Pensions, Brightwell (representing the BT Pension Scheme), Coal Pension Trustees, Invensys Pension Scheme, M&S Pension Scheme, Royal Mail Pension Plan, Shell Contributory Pension Fund, and Unilever UK Pension Fund. It has been supported by Quietroom and Shula PR and Policy with this project.
The communication toolkit, which includes a video animation, can be downloaded at www.gmpeasy.co.uk and has been developed to help schemes explain what GMPe means in a clear, simple and engaging way to their members.
As well as being developed by communications experts the material has been legally reviewed and tested with members to ensure it's simple and easy to understand.
Speaking on behalf of the group of DB schemes partnering on the project, Brightwell head of member communication Kirsty Aljewicz said: "Communicating to members about GMP equalisation is something we're all going to have to do but it's far from simple.
"As we're all grappling with this issue, we thought it would be great to work together on this challenge and develop something which not only benefits our own schemes but benefits the whole industry."
She added: "The hope is that this toolkit will make communicating GMP easy peasy!"
Royal Mail Pensions Trustees head of membership and benefits Mark Rugman said the communications working group had felt that, while the impacts and nuances of GMP equalisation were different for each scheme, there were commonalities for all schemes.
He said he hoped the collaborative approach would avoid duplication of effort across the industry; allow for economies of scale; and also provide consistency of messaging across schemes.
Rugman hoped the toolkit would provide a foundation for more detailed scheme-specific communications.
He added the schemes involved had agreed to share the costs of creating the toolkit equally.
Invensys Pension Trustee chief administrative officer Ann-Marie Morgan said, while many schemes were still in the process of agreeing GMP equalisation methodologies with their sponsors, the toolkit would hopefully help them when it came to explaining the issue to members.
She added the fact these communications had been produced in a collaborative way with other schemes and had also been member tested and legally reviewed would also give schemes the confidence to present them to trustees for use in their schemes as part of a "layered approach" of communication with members.
Quietroom director Simon Grover commented: "It was fantastic to be asked to help deliver this project and it's been great to be working with the partner schemes to develop and test a set of communications that will really help schemes explain GMPe to their members.
"Whether schemes decide to use the communications as is or decide to tailor them for their own needs, we hope they will be a good starting point for the complex communications challenges that schemes are facing."
Grover said the toolkit included two sets of paragraph texts - the first the "essentials" he believed every scheme would want to use; and the second set the "extras" that might be used as part of a more detailed scheme FAQ. All the text he said had been member tested and legally reviewed.
Commenting on the launch of the toolkit, Pensions Administration Standards Association chair Kim Gubler said: "We know communicating GMPe is a real challenge because it's such a complex subject, and so we're really pleased to see an industry initiative which will support schemes explain how GMPe affects pension savers in a straightforward way.
"We believe this could drive consistency in communication across the industry, which would be incredible. This will be particularly important where people have multiple employers across their working lives. They could be receiving GMPe communications from several different sources, and if they all look different this will be so confusing. GMPe may be very complicated, but your communications don't have to be."
The DB Comms Super Group was set up following a roundtable around 18 months ago and has been looking at communication issues around vulnerable members and the cost of living crisis in addition to developing this toolkit on GMP equalisation member communications.
The group said future projects it may look at include work on financial advice for members at retirement; scams; and work on the pensions dashboards. It said it would welcome input from other schemes if they wanted to get involved by contacting [email protected] in the first instance.
The suite of GMP equalisation communications tools and animation is available at www.gmpeasy.co.uk. The content and animation are free to use as is or can be tailored to suit an individual scheme's needs.