KNOWLEDGE IS POWER
With the power of pensions all but hidden behind jargon and actuarial language, the Cabinet Office and MyCSP needed to shake things up. Now, Pension Power is changing the way pensions are discussed, considered and engaged with across the civil service
‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give an…actuarial reduction,’ says one movie-inspired poster. It is accompanied by further posters with taglines derived from famous film quotes. These act as key creative assets for pensions provider MyCSP’s Pension Power brand. The funny, colourful and quirky approach is transforming the pensions world while improving the relationship between civil servants and their pensions. MyCSP also took home a handful of trophies at the 2019 Corporate Content Awards, including those for ‘Best copy style or tone of voice’ and one of the big ones, ‘Best corporate storyteller.’
David Boardman, director of communications and engagement at MyCSP, says the awards helped validate the bold approach the organisation has taken over the past 18 or so months. “We got ‘Best corporate storyteller,’ and for me that’s what I’ve been trying to get through to the pensions industry: it’s about stories. It’s about making pensions relatable; not talking about the pension, but what you do with the pension.”
And Pension Power has gotten people talking. At Civil Service Live, the massive seven-week roadshow for the public sector that runs across the UK in June and July, Pension Power was one of the best-attended presentations. It earned the team at MyCSP a 98.5% capture rating, which was the highest of any presentation. The conversation has changed within the Cabinet Office – the primary client for MyCSP – about pensions, with more people engaging with their pensions decisions earlier on in their careers.
The results are proof of the success, but reaching the point at which Pension Power could be the flagbearer for a new kind of discussion about pensions required buy in from the Cabinet Office and from MyCSP’s internal team. “I have been so impressed by the client’s openness and willingness to get into this strange, crazy David Boardman World of Pensions where I like bright colours and I like alliterations and attention-grabbing headlines,” Boardman says.
Getting to that stage required a change in mindset for all parties. The Cabinet Office also had a clear strategic objective to ensure members value and understand their pensions and are actively planning for their retirement. Boardman says one of the key aspects of the creative process has been to work with the compliance team within MyCSP. Compliance in pensions is strict and requires the rules to be adhered to. “The challenge is you have to mould communications and compliance together to find a happy medium,” Boardman says. Doing that successfully has reassured the MyCSP compliance team that the organisation’s communications are appropriate. But it has also helped inform the Cabinet Office that, despite a wacky and wonderful approach to content, every piece of communications is compliant.
Having undertaken that process, Boardman finds the trust between the teams has improved. Backing up the engaging communications are real results proving people are becoming inspired by with the material and changing their approaches to pensions planning as a result.
One of the key pieces of content for Pension Power was the ‘Are you pension savvy?’ quiz. A kind of BuzzFeed-style personality quiz, quiz-takers are sorted into one of five personas: Put it Off Percy, Clueless Chloe, Confused Connor and Savvy Sally. This was supported by a conversational tone of voice and cultural references that appealed to a younger audience. The movie posters campaign, too, was one of the key drivers to get people onto the Civil Service Pension website.
And the great thing is, it worked. With an approach to content that challenges the norms of the sector and a conversational tone of voice that cuts through the industry jargon, Pension Power actually got people interested in their pensions. “We started to see people going to the website and a mix of age groups coming to Civil Service Live. It wasn’t just people near 60 who had woken up to the idea that they had to start planning for their retirement,” Boardman says. Using phrases like ‘a 25-year holiday’ to talk about pensions has framed the conversation as one of being an enabler; it looks at what the pension represents.
It has also helped change the approach to civil service jobs more generally. “Traditionally, people thought the public sector doesn’t pay as much as the private sector,” Boardman says. But, considering the pensions, and other, benefits, proves that might not be the case. Employers contribute between 26% and 34% to each employee’s pension, compared to just a 4.2% joint contribution from the employee and the company outside the public sector. Talking about pensions as a benefit, and a considerable one at that, has helped the Cabinet Office to reframe its approach to employer brand management. It now has another tool in its arsenal when attracting talent, but also when it comes to retaining talent that might be attracted to other industries. “This was about how to get people thinking about pensions in a different way,” Boardman says. “This is where my retail background came into it. I wanted to use colour. I wanted to use imagery. I wanted to use online quizzes that were fun and make people come into the subject almost without knowing it.”
Because all the content is backed up by data – both qualitative and quantitative – about the changes it is making to the pensions conversation within the Cabinet Office, Pension Power truly can show its power. The brand will carry the flag for pensions into the future, with slight changes made in terms of the visual identity and campaigns, to encourage future engagement and creativity.
And it’s an irresistible mix, for MyCSP’s communications team, for the Cabinet Office and for civil servants alike. The only question remains that remains is: are you pension savvy?