Nest Insight turns 5

As Nest Insight reaches this significant milestone, our Executive Director, Will Sandbrook, reflects on the unit’s progress and achievements since launching in 2016, and the partnerships and collaborations that have made our ambitious programme of work possible.

Last month, we were absolutely thrilled to be able to host our annual Nest Insight conference in person, after an enforced year online in 2020. It was so exciting to have people with us in the room, as well as being able to share the event with a wider audience than ever before via live streaming of some sessions. Those are available to watch back here and include some great discussions around the impact of the pandemic on financial wellbeing, the innovations that might help address that impact, and on the challenge of engaging people nearer retirement about how to access their savings.

As I said in my intro remarks to the event, it also marked something of a significant milestone for Nest Insight – the fifth anniversary of our launch in 2016! So it gave me a chance to look back on what we’ve achieved in that time.

When we launched, Nest Insight was just an idea – an experiment in whether we could take the visibility and convening power of Nest, and the data that we held, and turn that into a compelling public benefit research programme, able to deliver meaningful innovation while collaborating with partners and external funders to maximise impact.

When we launched, there were three of us. Today, we’re a team of 12, bringing together permanent team members with secondees from both within Nest and outside, and fixed-term specialists helping drive forward our ambitious research programme. With a growth in team has come extended reach and impact. Our broad network of partners – including leading academics, employers, financial services providers, fintechs, government, think tanks, charities and foundations – support us to deliver research into the needs of low- and moderate-income defined contribution (DC) savers which otherwise simply wouldn’t have been done.

We’ve expanded from a narrow focus on engaging people with their pensions, to a broader platform examining wider financial resilience and wellbeing and their impact on retirement outcomes, and to addressing the challenge of long-term saving for the self-employed.

In the process, we’ve become an authority on many of these issues and, crucially, on the solutions that might help to address them. Through our innovative and ground-breaking programme of real-world trials, we’re rigorously evaluating tools and approaches working with some of the world’s leading researchers in the field of pensions and financial behaviour. This work is now frequently cited not only within the UK debate but globally, as we work to fulfil our original goal for Nest Insight to be a channel for the international exchange of ideas and best practice.

We’re immensely proud of what we’ve achieved so far. But in the scheme of things, we’re still young. Many of our projects are multi-year endeavours, and each of them is constantly triggering ideas for further research and trials that we think could make a difference to the retirement prospects of millions in the UK and elsewhere. We’ve been lucky to form some fantastic partnerships, including with our strategic partners Invesco and Blackrock, and with a range of programme partners and collaborators who between them have made all of our work possible. We’re ambitious to continue and build on this work, and so continue to look for like-minded organisations who can help us to realise those ambitions. There’s so much more work to be done, but we can’t do it without your support – if you think you can help as a funder, a collaborator, or in any other way, please get in touch. We’re excited for what the next five years might bring.

Will Sandbrook, Executive Director of Nest Insight