The government-backed master trust will be examining the financial impact of Covid-19 on self-employed people, with the pandemic delaying its practical tests expected this year.
Nest Insight and the Department for Work and Pensions announced this week (September 16) new research to access the financial wellbeing impacts of Covid-19 on self-employed savings behaviours and attitudes.
The analysis conducted by the master trust collaborative research unit will assess the need and appetite for different types of savings solutions, including emergency and hybrid savings tools, it stated.
This will be the third stage of their ongoing research programme, with the results from the second phase – also published on Wednesday – showing that tailored communications have the potential to engage self-employed people with retirement saving.
Nest Insight conducted two email messaging field trials among 19,800 self-employed UK workers in 2019, in collaboration with the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed.
The trials aimed to understand the effect of messaging developed specifically around the characteristics, needs and context of self-employed people on engagement with pension saving, and to examine the behaviours that different messages might prompt.
Jo Phillips, Nest Insight's director of research and innovation, said these field trials showed “encouraging results, with open rates outperforming benchmarks for comparable campaigns”.
She said: “Whilst emails alone cannot address the structural, behavioural and cultural barriers to saving that self-employed people face, these trials suggest that relevant, targeted communications have the potential to boost engagement and draw attention to savings tools and automated solutions.”
The new stage of the research – looking at the impact of the pandemic – will be relevant for future trials, she noted.
“We believe it’s vital that we assess the impacts on different sub-groups of self-employed people, and if there’s evidence that people’s savings orientation has changed - for example, if they feel they need to build up liquid savings before considering saving for retirement - we will look to adapt our technology trials accordingly.”
Nest Insight had planned to test a series of practical interventions in 2020, but these had to be delayed due to the pandemic, and are now to be conducted in early 2021.
These technology-based trials will be designed to make it easier for self-employed people to save via platforms and services they already use to manage their money, Nest stated.
Pensions minister Guy Opperman noted that the “valuable insights gained from these messaging trials, along with the forthcoming research into the financial wellbeing impacts of Covid-19, will help inform future trials and policy”.
“I look forward to seeing the positive interventions that follow,” he concluded.
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