Pensions Buzz: How to effectively communicate with trustees

Professional Pensions asked its audience of trustees and scheme managers how they prefer prospective advisers and providers to approach them and the sort of communications they like to receive.

This is what they said…

When asked about how they preferred to be contacted by advisers or providers they don’t currently use, the clear preference was to be contacted by email – with 70% of respondents saying this was their favoured form of communication for an initial approach by prospective suppliers.

Letter was the next most popular option, favoured by 20% of respondents, followed by telephone (7%) and social media (3%).

Conversely, when respondents were asked what the least preferred methods of communication were, telephone topped the list, cited by 66% of respondents, followed by social channels (28%), email (3%) and letter (3%).

However, respondents were very clear they did not like to receive unsolicited correspondence – and care needs to be taken when using such an approach.

As one correspondent explained:

“Frankly, we would prefer an adviser/provider that we don’t currently use NOT to contact us at all. We will contact them if we are thinking of changing.”

However, for those providers and advisers looking to approach schemes, it was clear email was the way in which respondents preferred to be contacted – as long as they were worded as a letter and not a standard “round-robin” type message, which many respondents said they would delete.

As one respondent explained:

“Email allows me to deal with it at a time of my choosing.” Another added: “Email is the best informal method of contact. If I don’t like it then I delete.”

Unsolicited telephone calls were singled out as the most irritating method of communication from prospective advisers and providers.

As one respondent noted:

“I do not like cold calling and will not respond positively.”

Another added cold calls were “inconvenient” and led to a “rude answer”.

Yet another said:

“I am not going to enter into a multi-million pound deal because of a random call. I wish this sort of thing was made illegal. Please pass on this heart-felt message to the worst offenders out there.”

We then asked respondents the sort of communication they most liked to receive from prospective advisers and providers.

The most popular communication was expert views on topical issues (such as ‘What the new Pensions Act means for your scheme’), favoured by 56% of respondents.

This was followed by in-depth briefings, whitepapers or thought leadership type articles, which were favoured by 14% or those polled. Less favoured communications included business updates (12%), product information (8%) and survey results (4%).

Conversely, when asked respondents about the sort of communication they least liked to receive from prospective advisers and providers, survey reports topped the list, with 50% of respondents saying the communications they least liked receiving from prospective providers or consultants.

But once again, respondents were clear that communication had to be genuinely useful and appropriate to the scheme rather than just a cleverly disguised sales pitch.

As one noted:

“A lot of the communication is overwhelmingly patronising, as are many of the ‘salesmen’ – most of whom are much less technically qualified than I, or my colleagues. And if anyone else suggests they would like to help us ‘on our journey’ to wherever…”

You can read the responses in full at the end of Professional Pensions 9 August Pensions Buzz survey.