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Covid-19 and long-term savings: supporting customers and adapting operations

Ahead of our event on "Long-term savings operations: navigating unprecedented challenges" on 25 June, our Head of Long-Term Savings Policy, Rob Yuille, has blogged on how firms have sought to adapt to meet the changing needs of customers and the regulatory landscape through the COVID-19 Crisis. 

The disruption caused by coronavirus has undoubtedly, required everyone to adapt their lives.

For long-term savings firms this has meant radically reshaping their business practices to ensure they can continue to support customers in as normal a way as possible, while supporting colleagues working from home. The key operational challenges from this unprecedented and prolonged crisis will be a focus of our event on Long-Term Savings Operations on 25 June. It will also provide an insight into customer behaviour during the so-called ‘new normal’.

Naturally, many stakeholders had concerns about the immediate consumer risks arising from coronavirus: would there be a dash for cash by customers concerned about the value of their savings; would there be an increase in scams; would employers stop pension contributions; and how would vulnerable customers be supported? On each of these, there is reason to be reassured for now, but to remain vigilant as the crisis evolves.

  • We are collecting data on pension access decisions. From the data we already have, there are variations between and within firms, but there is a general view that more customers are holding off on accessing their pensions due to market volatility. This will need to be monitored as customers’ financial needs change, and we aim to provide further detail at our event on 25 June.
  • Members have seen little or no new scam activity specific to pensions, though with ongoing concerns about types of unregulated investments, and unresolved questions about practices on the fringes of regulation.
  • The Government and regulators have supported workplace pensions by picking up minimum employer contributions through the Job Retention Scheme for furloughed employees, and easing reporting requirements and implementation deadlines, but employers will now have to pay contributions from August as the scheme winds down.
  • Members have made adjustments to support vulnerable customers, with a rise in queries from those who are financially vulnerable, despite the challenges of maintaining customer contact remotely. In particular, members have taken more flexible approaches to proof of health conditions and proof of death.

This period has, of course, been a significant test of our sector’s resilience, both firms’ operations and the market as a whole. Our webinar will address some of the main questions that have arisen, such as:

  • How firms have continued to deliver transformation projects through the disruption.
  • How the crisis has shown the inter-relationships in the value chain, particularly the reliance on third parties, including intermediaries, outsource partners and often public bodies.
  • Whether the disruption will accelerate the shift to paperless communications and remote working, and if so, how all customers can continue to be supported.

The short-term impacts of this crisis have been huge but proven the industry’s ability to adapt. The next question we should ask ourselves is what changes it will spark in the longer term?

We will be discussing all of these challenges and the questiosn they pose during our event on 25 June with our expert speakers and industry representatives - Book your spot now! 

Last updated 02/06/2020