Talking with self-employed people about retirement saving

Auto enrolment has greatly expanded participation in workplace pension saving, but certain groups not benefiting from the savings system, including those who are self-employed, are at risk of poorer outcomes in retirement. One of Nest’s Insight’s major research interests is finding ways to bring these groups into long-term and pension saving, in ways that fit with their needs and context.

In the UK, nearly 5 million people are in some form of self-employment, but only 14% of these workers are actively saving into a workplace or personal pension. This compares to 88% of the working population eligible for auto enrolment through their employer.

Recognising that it’s not possible to extend auto enrolment because self-employed people don’t have an employer to set up a pension and enrol them, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has committed to trialling interventions to support these workers to save. Since early 2019, we’ve been working with DWP on a multi-phase research programme that aims to understand the low levels of saving seen among these workers and to test a range of solutions within the current regulatory framework to encourage and enable self-employed people to save more for retirement.

On Wednesday 16 September, we published findings from the second stage of our research programme: Talking with self-employed people about retirement saving (PDF). This involved two email messaging field trials, in collaboration with the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed (IPSE) and Nest Corporation, to test the effects of tailored messaging on engagement with pension saving, and examine the behaviours that different messages might prompt. 

In this short video, Jo Phillips, Director of Research and Innovation at Nest Insight, and Greg Bowe, the lead analyst on the messaging trials, tell us how the research was delivered, what we’ve learned, and what this means for the next stage of the programme: testing practical interventions designed to make it easier for self-employed people to save via platforms and services they already use to manage their money.

Further information