Three entrepreneurs pitched their most innovative ideas on improving the UK’s savings culture to a tough panel of ‘dragons’ today, during Workplace Pensions Live’s very own version of Dragons Den. But which of them received the highest investment?

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Lucy Ashton

First up was Lucy Ashton, whose idea aimed at combining consumption and savings. “I want to help people save when they spend,” she told the panel of dragons and audience at Workplace Pensions Live.

Every time a consumer purchases an item or multiple items from a supermarket or coffee shop, they would automatically invest into their pension at the same time by making card payments vehicles for retirement top ups, she said. Each expenditure would result in a 10% equivalent of that expenditure going into their pension pot, she told us.

I want to help people save when they spend”

Ashton sees a physical link being made between the savings and the consumer culture, and she believes it would benefit card providers, pension providers and consumers alike.

But were our dragons convinced?

Steve Delo, chief executive of Pan Governance LLP, said he liked that Ashton’s idea encouraged proactive saving, but questioned how she would excite retailers about it. Ashton said retailers would look after their consumers by getting involved, benefitting them from both a commercial and reputational perspective. He committed £200,000 to her proposal.

Bill Galvin, chief executive of USS, liked the idea but was unsure whether it could work for all savings schemes, investing an exploratory £100,000 into a proposed ISA scheme instead.

Maggie Williams, associate publisher of Engaged Investor and Pensions Insight, invested £200,000. And Darren Philp, director of policy and market engagement at B&CE, invested £150,000.

Based on additional investment from third dragon, the audience, Ashton came second with a total investment of £750,000.

Sahil Sethi

Next up was Sahil Sethi. He told us most people want to save but face daily distractions. He said he was ‘only’ seeking an initial investment of £100,000 from the dragons.

He wanted to draw on resources such as Money Supermarket.com and companies tracking financial providers to help consumers make better decisions. With his service, he would help individuals understand their consumption patterns thereby helping them reach their retirement goals, prompting better day-to-day decisions such as whether to go out or stay in and watch a film to save money, he said.

Galvin asked whether Sethi’s vision was ‘just too big’, but gave him £100,000 for handling technical issues during his presentation well.

Delo echoed other panellists’ concerns and opted out. As a trustee conscious of risk, he found this idea too risky.

As a trustee conscious of risk, he found this idea too risky”

Williams committed £100,000, despite her concerns about the long term costs of Sethi’s business.

Philp was better convinced. He offered to invest £250,000, on the condition Sethi scaled back his ambition.

Sethi came third, as the audience’s investment brought his total investment to £300,000.

Andrew Pennie – THE WINNER

Last onto the stage was Andrew Pennie, who charmed the audience and the panel with his salesmanship. In his own words, his idea focused on “individual engagement, understanding and ownership”.

He wanted to scrap the word ‘pension’ altogether and change it to ‘wealth plan’, believing this phrase would better incentivise savers. As well as using positive imagery to impress the need to save on individuals, he wanted to use negative images, suggesting pay slips should be changed to red, amber and green, depending on how on far employees had progressed with their wealth plans.

The dragons – including the audience – had lost their minds”

All the dragons except Philp were impressed with Pennie’s pitch. Williams committed her remaining £300,000, Delo £200,000 on the basis Pennie “can sell ice to the Eskimos”, and Galvin offered the money he had left. Philp said Pennie’s fake letter from all political party leaders prior to the election implying their support put him off, so gave Pennie no more than his fake notes.

In total, Pennie received £1.3mn, suggesting, as our host Sara Benwell, assistant editor of Pensions Insight and Engaged Investor, put it that the dragons – including the audience – had lost their minds.