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GMP Equalisation

How to Contact Your Members About GMP Equalisation, And What They Need To Know

Friday, 2 October 2020

By Stewart Winter, Operations Director, Data Solutions, EQ (Equiniti)

Communication is not always easy. When it comes to communicating important information to members on technical matters, that is so much tougher. It can not only seem an impossible task, but can be the making or breaking of any project, undoing so much progress if it doesn't work.

Stewart Winter EQ Data Solutions Stewart Winter Operations Director, Data Solutions, EQ (Equiniti)

It’s not going to be easy

GMPs is the kind of comms to get filed in the “complicated pensions stuff” bucket. The kind of thing you need to know about, but hope you never have to explain it to a ‘civilian’. This is because it is the kind of subject that even technical experts find it difficult to understand, let alone explain to a layperson. But at some point, schemes must let members know that benefits are changing. And that’s the point they have to decide how much information to provide.

GMP information that’s ‘just right’

A scheme can certainly provide too little information, so the reasons are not adequately explained, and the members are not encouraged to discover more.

Members are entitled to understand how and why their benefits are changing, so can they be told ‘too much’? Perhaps.

Too much information will result in confusion. Members will either show disengagement or deluge the scheme with queries. Neither is useful for the member or the scheme. So how do we discover the ‘Goldilocks’ solution that delivers just the right amount of information?

Getting the balance right

There needs to be a balanced approach and the question that will arise is, what is balanced? We need to learn from schemes that have already gone through this exercise and consider what has – and hasn’t – worked. Here is where advisers can help, as they have experience over so many other clients.

Business related social media platforms may also help you find some insights that you can apply to your own scheme.

Remain open minded. Don’t forget that what failed somewhere else might be just the right solution for your scheme. So don’t dismiss anything out of hand.

Communicate early and regularly

Start early by communicating with members as soon as possible. It won’t make them any more adept at understanding the complexities of pensions, alas. But by creating an environment that fosters knowledge, will pay dividends in the long run.

Brochure websites with little more than downloadable pdfs of the scheme rules and annual statement won’t cut it.

Focus on what works in mass communication. People are used to reading a newspaper, so start with the headline. Spell out that GMPs won’t affect many and who they might be. Link to a FAQ or explanatory video/graphic.

Explain that it might mean a little more money but indicate how much/little that might be. Tell them it isn’t something to worry about as the scheme has it all in hand.

A little and often

Breaking these complex subjects into simple messages will make it easier for members to understand. It also shows the membership that transparency is important.

If nothing else, they will look at the scheme – whether trustees, pension department, administrator or customer service centre – as someone they can trust.