The DWP has suggested that companies should be allowed to ditch paper communications on the basis that it may save as much as £74 million a year according to their calculations.
Having worked in the industry for years with over-cautious pension lawyers telling me I was not allowed to just communicate electronically, this may appear to be good news. However, I’m not so sure.
The fact we might be able to ditch some of the ‘grey pages’ -the small print that has to go out to everyone, especially for contract based schemes- would be more than welcome. And to be able to make a decision as to when it makes sense to communicate just electronically would be great.
But if the legislation allowed a less than paternal company to ditch paper communications for cost reasons alone, this would not be right.
If we want people to understand their pension, then we need to communicate in a way that best suits them. And that will vary with each person. If we want to get the message over, we probably need to communicate by various methods –electronically, face to face, pay-slips, newsletters, personal letters, notice boards- you name it, we should do it.
In my view, a well thought out communication strategy will always include paper at some stage. It may cost a tree or two, but if the result is a better pension, a better understanding and a better industry, it’s worth the cost.