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Personal Pensions: Going High-Tech Could Help Pensions Slump/ 23.2.2012• A. Velasco• Posted At 03:00 PM

According to new research from Friends Life, the UK pensions industry could find a resurgence in active contributions into company and personal pensions just by taking advantage of technology.

The survey shows that millions of willing savers in the UK wish that it were easier to make contributions into their pensions through ATMs. These deposits would then be able to be made with cheques, cash, or through electronic transfer of the funds already in their accounts.

More ways to save

While it may seem trivial, pension funds should take this research into account because of the few people saving into pension funds today. Only around a third of adult Britons save away for their retirement, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS).

The study has recommended more than ATMs, as they recommend that people have more ways to access, manage, and contribute to their pensions from home. One of the suggestions is to offer a “Channel Changer Pension,” which would allow people to manage their pensions through their TV remote controls.

Another is to introduce a smartphone application, which would let people check their real-time pension progress any time of the day. This would let them know how much their pension is worth and include a pension calculator, which can help savers get an estimate of how much their pot will grow over time.

Increasing savings

A statement from Friends Life said that their research indicates that the majority of working adults in the UK have a “growing appetite” for “more opportunities to increase the amount they save.” In addition to making contributions into their current pension accounts, people are allowed to contribute into a second pension. One option is the stakeholder pension, which is offered by many providers, including Virgin Money.

The Friends Life research suggests that people are not engaged with pension savings because of lack of ease and flexibility, though much can be said for the influence of the economy. The firm has said that utilising technology to make pensions more flexible may not be a cure-all for the savings crisis plaguing Britain, but that “there may be some lessons” in their research.

Out of over 1,000 people surveyed across the UK, 59% called for a service that allows easy access to pension performance and expected retirement income at any time. 48% said that they want the ability to “adjust up or down” their monthly pension contributions. The pensions industry will do well to heed these calls, though experts say pension ATMs and other technologies would be complicated to implement.

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