Liquidity and workplace pensions: sidecar savings trial

Around the world, policy makers and researchers are launching a range of initiatives designed to encourage, on the one hand, short-term liquid savings, and on the other, illiquid savings for retirement. These two types of initiative are generally undertaken in isolation, often leading to a tension between liquid and illiquid savings. The implicit message is that long- versus short-term savings is a zero-sum game, where each type of savings is competing for a fixed share of individuals’ assets.

About the project

Recent work has challenged this perspective. Researchers in the US have proposed an approach that combines liquid and illiquid savings in a way that’s optimised around the needs and preferences of the saver. The argument is that an appropriate balance of liquidity will enhance people’s overall financial wellbeing, both in the short term and through into retirement.

Towards the end of 2018, we officially launched a UK research trial to test the impact of a combined savings tool, often referred to as the ‘sidecar savings model’, where a liquid ‘emergency savings’ account is linked to a traditional defined contribution pension pot. This hybrid savings tool is being offered by participating employers in the workplace. Contributions are deducted automatically through payroll and managed to create an optimal level of liquid emergency savings, while also increasing long-term savings. Over the next two years, we’ll be examining the impact of the savings tool and following workers on their savings journey to measure:
  • Who signs up to use the savings tool? What levels of participation do we see? Does it attract new savers?
  • How do people use the savings tool? How much do they save? How often and why do they withdraw money from their emergency savings? And does it help them to save more for retirement?
  • Does the savings tool have a positive impact on workers’ financial resilience and wellbeing?

Watch our video to find out more: 

This trial is supported by BlackRock, the Money and Pensions Service (MAPS) and JPMorgan Chase. The research is being led by Nest Insight, working with academics Sarah Holmes Berk, John Beshears, James Choi, David Laibson, and Brigitte Madrian as well as MaPS. Salary Finance is the trial’s savings technology partner, providing the savings tool which will be introduced in participating workplaces as ‘Jars’. Jars allows employees to set up regular payroll deductions to save money into their emergency savings jar, provided by Yorkshire Building Society, and, when they reach their savings target, to save more into their existing workplace pension.

Programme partners


BlackRock is a global investment manager, serving the UK market for more than 20 years. BlackRock Social Impact partners with not-for-profit organisations, start-ups, corporations and BlackRock employees to create impact in communities and on a global scale. It is supporting a cross-sector programme with a mission to help people living on low to moderate incomes gain access to and increase usage of proven savings strategies and tools, ultimately helping them to establish an important safety net. For more information, visit blackrock.com/corporate/about-us/social-impact


The Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) vision is: ‘everyone making the most of their money and pensions’. MaPS is an arm’s-length body committed to providing access to the information and guidance people across the UK need to make effective financial decisions over their lifetimes. For more information, visit maps.org.uk

JPMorgan Chase is committed to expanding access to economic opportunity for people in underserved communities by leveraging its philanthropic capital, talent and resources to focus on areas like jobs and skills, small business and financial health. It is a leading global financial services firm with assets of $3.2 trillion and operations worldwide. The firm is a leader in investment banking, financial services for consumers and small businesses, commercial banking, financial transaction processing and asset management. For more information, visit jpmorganchase.com NYSE: JPM

Delivery partner

Salary Finance is on a mission to help millions of people around the world to become financially happier and healthier. It currently helps over 3 million employees at 550+ of the UK’s largest employers. Salary Finance partners with employers to provide a range of salary-linked employee benefits, helping employees to get out of debt, start saving, advance their pay, protect their future and learn better financial habits. For more information, visit salaryfinance.com

Our research

You can find out more about the sidecar model and our research trial in the following blogs, press releases and Nest Insight publications:

Interested in taking part?

If you’re interested in taking part, and would like to find out more, please contact Jo Phillips: jo.phillips@nestcorporation.org.uk