Pensions  

Industry wary of reliance of digital communications

Industry wary of reliance of digital communications

Digital communications, products and services, rather than human interaction, should not become the only option for clients, according to Darren Philp, director of policy and market engagement at The People's Pension.

Speaking this week at the Retirement Solutions Forum conference held in London, he said: "We are half way through a digital revolution. 

"The way we communicate with people  - it’s going digital -  that is a given. I think we need to remember not everyone is comfortable communicating that way so we can’t put all our eggs in one basket. I think having other forms of communication, help and support are really important."

He said there was a trust and confidence issue when it comes to digital communication.

"I think what we need to do is work out how we can create that trust, whether through face to face advice or a call centre, you need to make sure you have a joined up approach to have the appropriate protections."

Over the last few years, there has been an influx of companies relying more digital technology to service clients.

One example is UBS Wealth Management, which launched an online wealth management platform earlier this year.

Speaking at the same event Paul Sturgess, director for pension administration and strategy at Equiniti said of human interaction versus the digital model: "It’s about bringing them together."

But Stuart Paton Evans, retirement propositions director at Scottish Widows said online services were "really important".

He said: "A lot of our customers expect us to communicate with them digitally and that is the world we are in and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that but it also  depends on a particular area of product."

He used the example of pension freedoms where they did a lot of research and the majority of their customers would either want to take advantage of pension freedoms or thought they might.

"We made a very conscious decision of hiring 400 people to man telephone centres to help customers who are going to come through on the surge post April 2015 with the information and guidance they need.

"It was fundamentally underpinned by completely revised internet websites, online tools, video links but by the same token it was a very holistic, joined up engagement model. As for pension freedoms there are examples where a digital fulfilment model for example works very well."

ruth.gillbe@ft.com