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Pensions supergroup makes GMP equalisation comms easy

Quietroom and the biggest DB schemes have created free resources for all schemes talking about GMP equalisation.

Galactic Mysteries Perplex

‘Our members have no idea what we’re talking about,’ said Morten Nilsson, CEO of Brightwell. He meant members of DB schemes across the industry, not just the ones that use Brightwell’s services.

‘Even some people who work within our schemes have no idea what we’re talking about either.’

Yes, it’s the niche within the niche. Welcome to GMP equalisation.

Great Minds Ponder

How do you navigate the perfect pensions storm? Complicated and technical, yet you have to tell members about it. Misleading headlines about huge payouts, with little or no possibility of that actually happening. Any mention of pensions makes people nervous, and GMPe comes with the bonus of also letting them down if they’re expecting a big payout.

So the great minds at some of the biggest schemes got together to form a supergroup, coordinated by Shula PR and Policy. Why try to tackle this alone? Why all struggle to solve a problem several times over in slightly different ways? Even if you somehow all managed to do it well, you’d have variations in terminology and message that would confuse people if they saw communications from more than one scheme.

Here was a chance to solve a problem common to all schemes and share the solution – for free – to drive consistency of communications and establish the standard for the industry.

Grant My Plea

‘The regulator told us to get on with GMP equalisation, so… we got on with it,’ said Ann-Marie Morgan of Invensys Pension Scheme at the launch today. The aim was to create something any DB scheme could use, or use parts of. A toolkit of communications that would be helpful and calming because it was consistent and clear.

But how can experts at the heart of a niche within a niche put themselves in the shoes of someone who backs away from any conversation about pensions? Or assumes, quite reasonably, that any mention of pensions means the state pension?

Time to call in comms specialists, Quietroom.

Genius Masters Puzzle

Quietroom have been helping schemes with GMP equalisation comms since they started, with the Lloyds Banking Group court case. But that didn’t mean they had all the answers. Simon Grover, a Director at Quietroom, explained, ‘A real expert says, “we don’t know everything. We need to test this and learn what’s really going to work”.’

Testing all the material on real members of DB schemes was a vital part of the process. ‘Real members will surprise you’ said Grover. ‘So you test, you learn and you rewrite until everybody understands and everybody’s happy. And you don’t need hundreds of people. You can learn what you need even from just half a dozen people, and it’s fast – you can do some testing overnight.’

Game-changing Manoeuvres Planned

The GMPeasy toolkit that the supergroup launched today is a collection of paragraphs you can pick and mix to suit what you need for your members. Plus a video that explains the basic concept of GMP. It’s all been tested on real members and rewritten until it worked.

The toolkit also had a legal check – though of course you’ll want to do your own.

And you can have it all for free. Yes, actually free. For any scheme to use, in any way. Just download it from GMPeasy.

Gentle Music Playing

The paragraphs in the toolkit fall into 2 bundles. There’s the ‘essentials’ and there’s ‘more information’, which covers some of the more technical details. You might want all of it, you might want just the bits that apply to the peculiarities of your scheme and are giving you a headache. And you might want to tweak lines here and there, but remember: it’s all been tested.

Even the detail of the tone of the voiceover in the animation and the kind of music in the background is like that for a reason. ‘It’s telling everyone to calm down,’ Grover explained.

Give Me Pleasure

‘It’s a question of members asking, “Who do I trust?”’ said Andy Whitelaw, of Brightwell. The danger is they see headlines about pensions using one kind of language, he explained, and schemes not being as clear and not being consistent. ‘If there’s too much variation, people question the reasoning and even the scheme’s integrity.’

If any communications about GMP equalisation could give members a warm, fuzzy feeling about pensions, it will surely be the pieces of the GMPeasy toolkit. And if you want more, take a look at our tips for talking about GMPe.

Gold Medals Presented

The message from the launch was that GMPeasy is now so lemon squeezy, we’ve even put it into lemonade and lemon cupcakes. It seemed to reflect the spirit of the collaboration: full of the joy of self-confessed geeks coming up with something a whole industry can use to help the real members.

Go Mend, People

Darren Philp of Shula PR and Policy looked ahead at what the supergroup could work on next. It could be an industry standard for talking about advice and guidance, it could be around scam warnings. But he suggested that where the industry needed to collaborate most urgently was on the messaging of a pensions dashboard.

So we’ll be hearing more from the supergroup, I’m sure. For now, it’s over to you. Bring GMP equalisation to your members with rock-solid, gold-standard comms. The text and the video are free to use. Have a look at GMPeasy and take what you need.