Autumn 2019 newsletter: Nest Insight 2019 Conference

Our fourth annual Nest Insight conference brought together academics, policy makers and industry from around the globe, to begin an open conversation tackling the challenges following auto enrolment. Here we highlight our key learnings:

The opening panel looked at the lived experience of saving and was kickstarted by Greg Levin, Director of Social Impact at BlackRock:

“Our panellists have each come at this theme from different angles which is just in recognition of the fact that the context here is challenging and that in order to truly understand the circumstances in which individuals are making saving decisions and to ensure that our programmes and interventions are in fact helping or in the very least not hurting those we have set out to serve we must understand the hurdles and trade-offs they are presented with. In order to do this we must take a truly holistic view of the work and this means utilising different, hopefully complimentary methodologies to analyse it”

Jo Phillips, Head of Research and Innovation at Nest Insight, presented research undertaken with Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) which sought to answer what, if any, impact the first phase had on Nest members and a detailed understanding of how their financial circumstances are developing over time.

Dr Hayley James, PhD Researcher from the Manchester Institute for Collaborative Research on Ageing (MICRA) at the University of Manchester, presented her research on individual decision making after enrolment, highlighting the variety of approaches to pension saving and the need for similarly varied forms of support.

Professor John Gathergood, University of Nottingham, addressed the unintended challenges arising from auto enrolment and advocated the use of new data links alongside statistical methods to understand these complexities.

In the spirit of global sharing we were thrilled to have Professor David Laibson Robert I. Goldman Professor of Economics at Harvard University contribute his insights. The renowned behavioural economist asked whether nudges were enough? While completely in favour of using nudges in social policy he cautioned balance:

“We shouldn’t be under the illusion that a nudge alone can achieve the goals that we are trying to achieve with policy. Nudges should be part of a bigger portfolio of policy ingredients that jointly achieve the outcome we need.”

In our second panel, chaired by Zoe Alexander, Nest Director of Strategy, we looked at the theme of inclusivity arising from the morning sessions:

“Coverage is one issue; the nuance and complexity of people’s lives and to what extent do we want to try and tailor auto enrolment in a way that makes it work for groups that might otherwise be left out.”

Iona Bain, Founder of the Young Money blog, made the argument for more to be done to educate the younger generation. Stressing that financial education should be well-timed, appropriately framed and using ‘radically simplified’ language.

Yvonne Braun, Director of Policy, Long-term Savings and Protections at the Association of British Insurers (ABI), called on a sharper gender focus from financial institutions through collaboration by pooling together data to help create social policy:

“Improving women’s financial wellbeing should be one of the top strategic priorities and that of course would not just benefit women (50% of the population) … but would also benefit those they care for.”

Helen Undy, Head of External Affairs at the Money and Mental Health Policy Institute, warned of the need for accessibility standards to assist the most vulnerable. Suggesting that a default system designed to protect those in exposed circumstances would cater to the needs of everyone.

Continuing our trend of global perspectives, we welcomed Ida Rademacher, Executive Director of the Aspen Financial Security Program, to the stage. Our Director Will Sandbrook sat down with Ida to get her viewpoint on broader financial wellbeing, debt, saving and the role of the employer.

Ida shared with us the essential principles need to be present to form a robust definition of financial wellbeing:

“The four dimensions of wellbeing… people want to feel in control of their day to day and month to month financial life, they want to be resilient in the face of an economic shock, they want to feel on track to meet their long term goals and importantly they want to feel that they have the dignity and freedom to make choices that will bring their families more opportunity in the future.”

The conversation showed the parallels between the US and UK landscape and raised future research themes.

Get in touch and tell us your key takeaways: insight@nestcorporation.org.uk