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Pensions industry makes thousands of language changes to simplify retirement choices

Following a two-year industry initiative to make pensions language simpler, clearer and more consistent – the Association of British Insurers today reports that thousands of changes have been made to consumer materials. The improvements will make it easier for consumers to understand their options at retirement, particularly in the wake of new and sometimes confusing options arising from pension freedoms.

Changes made by ABI members include:

  • Changing thousands of written documents to align with the ABI’s simplified terminology (see below), with one firm changing 800 documents alone.
  • Softening language that could worry consumers. For example, changing “We have some warnings we need to give you” to “We want to help you make sure you’re doing the right thing”.
  • Working with the Plain English Campaign to initiate the training of all customer facing staff, with thousands already completing in-depth courses.
  • Commissioning customer research to align simple language in a way that resonates with the consumers they serve.
  • Initiating engagement with customers up to 5 years before their set retirement date, rather than six weeks before, with one firm sending 4,000 simpler letters every month.
  • Replacing jargon and unnecessary technical language with visual metaphors and bespoke animations. One firm now uses an apple tree as a metaphor for a growing pension pot and withdrawal options.

The changes form part of ‘Making Retirement Choices Clear’ – an ABI-led initiative focused on simplifying the language used to describe the many options available to consumers at their point of retirement. They will be visible to customers through a number of engagements, including written communications, web pages and in the language used in conversations over the phone.

Consumers approaching their retirement should now be presented with simpler documents and information that will make their decision-making process a lot smoother, less daunting and more personalised – helping to create better retirement outcomes for all.

Rob Yuille, Head of Retirement Policy at the ABI, comments:

“It’s been widely acknowledged by the industry, regulators and government that pensions jargon is far too confusing for everyday consumers – even more so with the advent of pensions freedoms.

“The work being done by the industry to simplify and humanise the language used in retirement communications will give people more confidence and reduce anxiety when they come to making important decisions about their financial future at retirement.”

The ‘Making Retirement Choices Clear’  guide set out principles for simpler communication and proposed the new retirement options be explained as:

  • You can keep your pension savings where they are.
  • You can take your whole pension pot in one go.
  • You can take your pension pot as a number of lump sums.
  • You can get a flexible retirement income.
  • You can get a guaranteed income for life.
  • You can choose more than one option and you can mix them.



Notes for Editors


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1. The Association of British Insurers is the voice of the UK’s world leading insurance and long-term savings industry.

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Last updated 13/04/2018