When the Schneider Electric pension scheme reviewed its pensions arrangements, it successfully focused on consolidating its offering
Schneider Electric is one of the largest companies that you’ve never heard of.
The French multinational, which specialises in energy management and distribution, has 160,000 employees worldwide, including just over 4,000 in the UK.
The company has been through a time of business change, acquiring a number of companies, most recently the engineering and IT firm Invensys. As a result, it has consolidated and simplified its mix of defined benefit pension scheme and defined contribution arrangements.
Schneider brought in Jerry Gandhi as pensions manager for the UK and Ireland, to risk manage the DB and reshape the DC offer.
As Gandhi puts it: “Schneider wanted to review and re-structure its pension landscape and asked me to help plan and deliver a single, quality DC pension scheme for all its UK employees, to help align it to the business ethos and principle of sustainability.”
Schneider wanted to review and re-structure its pension landscape and deliver a single, quality DC pension scheme”
He explains: “The first stage in 2015 was getting investment fit for purpose – and fit for the freedom and choice reforms. This year  is about consolidating all legacy schemes and developing the utilisation of the site and engaging the population, getting us to a point where members understand and value their pension and interact accordingly.”
By focusing on the member, tailoring information to their life stage, and tracking their strategy’s success, the scheme has achieved great results.
Completed at the end of 2015, the scheme’s website now asks a few basic questions of its members when they first visit, and remembers the answers. “All words and imagery are tailored to you as an individual,” says Gandhi.
He advises schemes to focus on communicating to members in a way that will resonate with them at their particular life stage. “Explain principles, not details,” he adds.
Meanwhile, the scheme is building more technical modelling and a deeper dive into pensions for members who are interested; this will take the form of a series of animations lasting a few minutes each.
Step back and have an overarching aim”
Gandhi and his team carefully considered the details. They used ‘platform agnostic software’ to build the site, meaning that members can view it whether they’re using an iPad, Android phone or laptop.
Five prominently displayed videos talk members through the basics of pensions and the scheme. Each links to a PDF guide. “They can download it onto a Kindle and read it on their sun lounger,” says Gandhi.
To make members’ lives even easier, most forms can be obtained online, with the next stage also allowing these to be completed and submitted online. The next phase (now well under way) is to promote the new site to scheme members. Already, says Gandhi, it is receiving rapidly increasing traffic.
In January, the site had 450 unique visitors. This shot up to 800 in February. By March, the site had received another 1,800 visitors, with a further 900 added in the second quarter.
“Step back and have an overarching aim,” is Gandhi’s advice to other scheme managers contemplating a communications overhaul. As Schneider continues to power up the futures of its DC members, it’s advice they would do well to follow.
If you’d like to hear more from Schneider Electric, join J.P. Morgan Asset Management and Pensions Insight at a special forum for exclusively for DC plans and trustees.
The afternoon will bring together DC plans and trustees from across the country to hear an opening keynote from former pensions minister Baroness Ros Altmann, followed by a panel of DC pension managers, trustees and experts who will then share their insights on Designing and investing for DC in uncertain times.
To register your interest, click here.