February 11, 2013

Auto-enrolment gobbledegook,

To me it stands to reason that if workers have their own pension provision, they will be less of a burden on the State in their old age, and the force of inertia is greatly underestimated –if the worker is given a payslip with the pension contribution already taken off, he has to make a special effort to opt-out.  Most workers will just say “Oh well, it’s all part of my employment package,” and carry on.

But if pensions are now to be provided for all workers, the pension providers have to make a special effort to communicate with prospective members in the very clearest and simplest language.  I hesitate to say “using the Daily Mirror’s 1,000-word vocabulary”, but you know what I mean.

Some employers’ organisations have decided that this represents an opportunity to throw their scheme open to all, and gain from the economies of scale.  One of these is the snappily-named B&CE[1], which launched its “People’s Pension” in November 2011.

But if you went on to their website to learn more about the People’s Pension, this is what you would have found :

We communicate clearly to customers and colleagues, using everyday language avoid jargon and clichés.

By becoming a good listener we learn more from our customers which provides the best result.

We have an innate sense of what is right and what is wrong.

Our vision is that we are dedicated to the personal and financial wellbeing of everyone in construction.

But I am being perhaps a little unkind.  B&CE clearly recognised that its website needed overhauling, and in December (that is, 2012, some 11 months after the launch) replaced its old website with a splendid new one – without any errors of grammar or syntax, and obviously written by someone who used English as his first language.

Having said that, this is an object lesson in not pressing the button until you are really ready.  When most pension scheme administration will be carried out online in future, it is essential that the users of a website have complete confidence in the organisation providing the product.








[1]   After a great deal of tedious digging on its website, I eventually established that this stands for Building & Civil Engineering.  The use throughout the website of only the acronym B&CE reminds me of BP, who went to some lengths to tell the public that the initials now stood for “Beyond Petroleum,” to signify the group’s commitment to greener forms of energy.  This lasted until the Deepwater Horizon disaster, when the Americans also involved took care to refer prominently to “British Petroleum” . . . . .

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