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The Consumer Insight Behind PensionBee’s Groundbreaking Fossil Fuel Free Plan

January 14, 2021

4 min read

When pension provider PensionBee began receiving calls from customers who wanted to exclude oil companies from their investments, they recognised a shift in consumer attitudes.

People seemed to be growing more interested in sustainability and the ethics of their investments. It was something that Priyal Kanabar, Customer Insight Manager at PensionBee, needed to investigate. 

“It felt like we were getting a lot of calls from customers concerned about investing in oil through their pensions but we weren’t sure whether these were vocal customers who had a minority opinion or whether their views were representative of most of our customers,” she says.

To understand the issue further, Kanabar used Attest to carry out an extensive consumer research project. The research probed PensionBee’s customers on how they want their pension money invested, and to what extent they want providers to take ethical concerns into consideration in the investment process. 

“From that, we learned there was significant demand for a new Fossil Fuel Free Plan. We used evidence from Attest surveys to lobby our money managers to create a completely new mainstream fund. It’s been a really exciting project.” 

PensionBee’s Fossil Fuel Free Plan* excludes companies with oil, gas or coal reserves, as well as tobacco companies and manufacturers of controversial weapons. Instead, the new plan will ensure more of savers’ money is invested in companies who are committed to the transition to a greener economy using a Paris-aligned index created as part of a collaboration between FTSE and the Transition Pathway Initiative.

The plan has already received £45 million in commitments from people pledging to switch their existing plans. Kanabar says this proven real-life demand backs up the data gathered through Attest.

“The data is high quality,” she says. “It’s good because we can get a lot of responses from a big sample size. Attest is digital, and so we could reach our customers really quickly to ask how they want their money invested. We were able to validate the feedback we were getting from customers and evidence consumer demand for this new fund.”

Driving positive change

The Fossil Fuel Free Fund isn’t PensionBee’s only piece of data-backed research hitting the headlines; they’ve also released a report about the difficulties of drawing down pensions called ‘Drawdown Doldrums’. Reports of this nature help the pension provider to grow brand awareness and also drive positive change in the industry. 

“We did some research about people who are trying to access their money at retirement and how they have really struggled to navigate the market. We released our report along with a webinar, and that’s helping us to call out bad behaviour in the industry and advocate for better pension experiences.

“Our insights have been published in the national media. For example, the Telegraph published an article that brought attention to how some pension providers neglected customers during the COVID crisis.” 

Kanabar says PensionBee are passionate about listening to consumers and representing their interests. As well as interviewing customers individually, she uses Attest to get views from the wider market. 

“I sit in a team called Customer Voice,” she says. “The purpose is to amplify consumer voices in the industry. This includes calling out other pension providers for when they’re not delivering a fair service to customers. Recently we’ve been working on a piece about fees and how they can be too expensive and not transparent enough.”

Other teams within PensionBee to leverage Attest include those working in marketing and customer experience. The platform has helped them understand the core reasons why some consumers fail to convert after interacting with the brand online. This has enabled PensionBee to improve their conversion rate even more. 

Concludes Kanabar: “Our mission is to make pensions simple and engaging, and embracing customer feedback is a huge part of that. Attest helps us to harness insight quickly and easily to drive evidence-based decision making and ensure as a business we are relentlessly focused on customer need.” 

*Capital at risk.

To learn more about how PensionBee used Attest to develop the UK’s first mainstream fossil fuel free pension, watch our free on-demand webinar.

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