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As a Fintech firm operating in the less-than-innovative pensions world, Smart Pension was initially considered to be rather extraordinary because we dared to allow busy people to sign up their workforce for a pension via their smart phone or tablet in less than half an hour, for free.
While the traditional pensions industry groaned and creaked under piles of legal paperwork and triple-decked spreadsheets as hundreds of thousands of new members flooded in due to this new-fangle auto enrolment, we dared to think the unthinkable; that one day, workplace pensions could be as accessible as online banking with real-time technology enabling more and more people to engage and save for their retirement.
But the benefit of digitising pensions has not only made offering a pension scheme easier for the 1.4m small and micro businesses that now have to straddle the often over-complicated, time-consuming world of pension provision for the first time. Harnessing technology has also made auto enrolment more sustainable and likely to succeed. And that social benefit is good news for us all.
That’s why being recognised in the Digital Leaders 100 awards in the Fintech Innovation category and overall winner was such a proud moment – and so satisfying. Smart Pension isn’t a sexy new app that can summon a waiter to your table, bringing a delicious cocktail held aloft on a shiny, silver tray.
Smart Pension’s innovation has been to make complying with new pension responsibilities easier, quicker and more affordable. It’s a quiet revolution that will have profound effects on the way employers and employees behave in the future when it comes to making financial provision for the future.
It was also good to be in such great fintech company with the likes of Tide, Huddlestock and Monzo, in our category. Going on to not only win it but to also to scoop the Overall Winner award was, and is, a huge achievement.
Before we started the design process at Smart Pension, or even began to build anything, we carried out some extensive research on the competitive landscape and the workplace pension options in the marketplace that were available to UK SMEs. The results, bar a few exceptions, were uninspiring: most auto enrolment platforms were (and still are) expensive and clunky, hamstrung as they are by legacy IT systems and a paper-based, face-to-face sales model, with eye wateringly painful set-up and ongoing costs as a consequence.
Very few of these platforms used any of the recent advances in technology to keep costs down for SMEs. The fundamental understanding that for most SMEs, if not all, resources such as time and money are a luxury that many cannot afford – and this was a huge driving force behind how our product offering was going to work and differentiate itself from the existing platforms on the market.
After a year researching, designing, building and continuously testing (to this day) the Smart Pension auto enrolment platform, we were determined to make it as good as we possibly could and to ensure it was what the market wanted. We set out from the beginning to build intelligent digital systems capable of making auto enrolment work seamlessly for businesses while transforming the way the established pension industry works. We believe that this disruption was much needed and as a consequence, Smart Pension is the fastest auto enrolment platform on the market to sign up to – and advisers and employers can use it for free. We also only charge a small AUM fee, which is in line with the current pension charge cap, in order to be able to maintain great value for employees.
And this approach has paid off. We are now seeing a new business enrol their staff in a pension every seven minutes. This is because the technology we’ve developed means we can be highly responsive and build features to suit the needs of the business and those of our customers. Such as seamless integration with payroll and accounting software. That’s not the usual way to approach pensions and the Digital Leaders awards bears testament to that. We’re delighted to have our work recognised by these important awards and are committed to maintaining our innovative pace whilst promoting long-term digital transformation across the pension industry in order to continue to deliver the best product possible.