Skip to content

Sailing towards buyout?

The time has come. You kept the ship steady and those retirements rolling on. But now a bigger boat is coming to keep members afloat.

The time has come. You’ve done a lot together. In good times and bad, you kept the ship steady and those retirements rolling on. But now a bigger boat is coming by to help keep your members afloat for the rest of their lives. You just need to help those passengers clamber over the rigging onto their new vessel, and get safely on their way.

Which is all an over-engineered way of saying your scheme is thinking about a section 32 pension buyout and you’re wondering how to communicate it to members. In which case, over-engineering is exactly what you want to avoid.

Buyout is a sea change for your scheme – don’t make it one for members

There’s a hell of a lot to do below deck for buyout, but a flurry of sudden communication about it could panic your members. After all, the Sun never wrote a happy headline about a major change to someone’s pension plan. The assumption is change = bad.

Not only that, this particular change involves the pension scheme disappearing and an insurance company stepping in. I’d be racing for the lifeboats too, if I didn’t know better.

Like any good captain, you need to remain calm and cheerful no matter what. Make your message simple, straightforward, and fundamentally positive. Get to the point, while framing pension buyout as the good news that it is. It really will be the difference between a calm journey to windup and a stormy one.

Do not say: ‘Your pension fund is changing, and an insurer is taking over. You won’t be able to contact the scheme anymore, as it won’t exist. We’ll let you know how you can transfer out if you want to, and will write again when it’s all done.’

Do say: ‘Your pension fund is in such great shape that we think we can achieve the ultimate level of security with a buyout. An insurance company will take over paying your pension (which won’t change). We’ll have done our job for you, and the scheme can be wound up. We’ll be in touch with more good news very soon.’

Steer your ship to shore

The pension buyout market has been buoyant in the last couple of years. The Quietroom team have been steering schemes to buyout with member communications left and right (or yes, sure, port and starboard). And this crew loves talking about pensions.

So if you’ve got a pension buyout on the horizon and you want to talk member communications, feel free to drop us a line. If you’re captaining a complex scheme and there’s lots going on, we can talk about your strategy and what comms you’ll need when. Or, if you’re manning a simpler or smaller pension scheme, you might like to know about our off-the-shelf buyout model comms that give you the best of our thinking and experience.

In the meantime (or if you’re thinking of setting off solo) check out our top tips for talking about buyout.

Over and out.