As pension providers, employers and consumers continue their journey into the brave new world of pensions freedom, what role should technology play?
Fintech as it’s known is also developing rapidly and helping to change the way in which consumers and providers interact with each other. It can, for example, take care of much of the repetitive, technical aspects of the financial services business, so staff can spend more time focusing on the human aspect of their job and talking to customers.
However, according to Robert De Dominicis, who has over a quarter of a century of experience in this area, it can – and should be – doing a lot more. “A pension is most people’s largest financial commitment, other than buying a home, and that’s why engagement is so important,” he says.
When you’re choosing a pensions provider, it’s important to look at what tools they are offering to help you better understand your pension and take control
With their busy lives and with so many demands on their attention, people need to be able to find out quickly and easily what they have in their pension pot, how it’s performing and how changes in regulation could affect it. “People have the power now to take control of their pensions and financial technology can help them,” says Mr De Dominicis, group chief executive and managing director at GBST, one of the world’s leading fintech providers with clients including Aegon, AJ Bell, Blackrock and HSBC.
The company has grown over the last 30 years and now has more than 500 staff in 11 offices worldwide, servicing some of the largest and best-regarded pensions providers. Its products can handle annuities, workplace pension schemes and SIPPs alongside simple investments.
Consumers, according to Mr De Dominicis, should have the reassurance of knowing that their pensions provider is using the best fintech services available in the marketplace, so they can gain easy access to information about their pension pots and be able to rest assured their money is safe. “When you’re choosing a pensions provider, it’s important to look at what tools they are offering to help you better understand your pension and take control,” he says.
GBST was founded in Australia where many of the type of pension reforms currently being introduced in the UK have been in operation for around 20 years. This has given the company vital experience, which it is now bringing to pensions providers and employers in the UK.
“We can provide our clients with technology that gives real-time access to their pension pots with the employer, their direct investments and with their financial adviser. There’s a growing desire among companies now to offer customers information in an easily accessible but secure way,” says Mr De Dominicis.
“Almost all our clients extend their website so that a phone app provides access to investors’ pension pots. For example, I can logon with my thumbprint and see the balance on my pension account at any time. I can drill down in detail and look at the returns on investment, and how it’s performing against any indices. It’s also possible to review my contributions and any transactions. It’s one of the easiest ways to stay connected and your provider can post information to you with, say, a weekly update.”
He points to another app offered to users by Aegon. By simply inputting a few details, including their age and income, the app can show the user how close they are in financial terms to a secure retirement. “These are the type of tools that workplace providers should be looking to offer,” says Mr De Dominicis.
Pensions providers, he argues, who offer their customers cutting-edge technology and companies who do the same for their employees can gain an advantage over their competitors – and, just as importantly, help people to take greater control over their lives in the future.
For more information please visit www.gbst.com