How your views help shape our scheme
By Kim Brown, Pension Scheme Director, Legal & General Mastertrust and IGC
The overwhelming aim of the Legal & General’s Mastertrust is to provide a value-for-money scheme that acts in your best interests. Therefore, we believe in listening to your views and acting on them, says Kim Brown, Pension Scheme Director for the Legal & General Mastertrust and IGC.
A guiding principle of our approach to our Mastertrust is the importance of member engagement. It’s only by listening to your views that we can tap into your concerns and address them.
It’s reassuring that the trustees take seriously the decisions they make on your behalf. At the same time, any opportunities you take to make your views and concerns known help to validate and shape the trustees’ assumptions about what is, or is not, important to you.
Caring about the issues that matter to you
When something is personally relevant to someone, they’re more likely to engage with it – and many of you and your employers care about issues that affect the environment, society and the way organisations are governed.
In 2020, the Mastertrust trustees’ updated their stance on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues in their Statement of Investment Principles stating that in the long term, they believe that investments which take into account a range of ESG factors may outperform those that don’t.
They also backed the significant expansion of Legal & General’s Climate Impact Pledge in 2020 which assesses more than 1,000 of the world’s companies on their climate change credentials and holds them to account.
As a business, Legal & General and the Mastertrust trustees are both committed to achieving net zero carbon across all our default funds by 2050 or sooner and recently published some ambitious targets to support this aim.
Understanding your views about responsible investing
In 2020 Legal & General collaborated with an investment technology provider Tumelo to give a voice to members’ views on ESG. The Tumelo platform gives greater transparency about the companies you are invested in and allows you to express opinions about your investments to your fund managers.
As well as informing Legal & General’s investment stewardship team, this feedback supports the Mastertrust trustees’ knowledge of what matters to you and enriches the data on which we base the design of more relevant new products and services.
In October 2020, we attracted record numbers of you to our first ever virtual member forum. At the event, which the trustees jointly hosted with Legal & General’s Independent Governance Committee, world-famous film director, Richard Curtis, spoke about his campaign group, Make My Money Matter, which seeks to drive members to enact change through their pension savings. The group also encourages the industry to invest the trillions of pounds in UK pensions to build a better future.
Called ‘Pensions Actually!’ the virtual aspect of the forum was driven by the pandemic. But the combination of Richard Curtis’ appeal and an accessible platform resulted in 3,000 of you viewing the forum. We received hundreds of responses that gave us valuable insights into your motivations for your pension funds. This re-iterated the trustees’ belief that a range of funds needs to be available to accommodate your diverse views as there simply isn’t a blanket agreement on ESG that covers everyone.
For instance, the percentage of those relaxed about continued investment in fossil fuels was the same as for those who were vehemently against it (16%) while the remainder were comfortable either way as long as Legal & General was making informed investment decisions which balanced all relevant factors.
This finding further supports a review by the trustees of the default funds which you will be saving into should you not state an alternate for your pension savings. It also supports the trustees’ review of wider fund ranges that you can select if you wish to invest in an alternative that more closely aligns with your beliefs.
To help you understand the interplay between investment returns and environmental and societal imperatives, we have a straightforward ESG page on our Mastertrust website which links to Legal & General’s member-friendly ESG Hub.
Listening, learning and acting
Your insight is important to us and we’re always looking to increase the opportunities for your voice to be heard so we can develop the Mastertrust in ways that provide the most value to you.
For example, you may have taken part in one of our interactive webinars and, through Legal & General, we also use virtual reality to demonstrate the planning tools and website information available to you. In just eight months last year Legal & General reached around 10,000 of you with presentations about subjects including scheme refreshes, financial wellbeing, redundancy, high earner issues and pre-retirement.
As part of assessing whether you receive value for money from our scheme, we regularly conduct surveys to measure the quality of services and give us a clearer idea of what matters most to you so we can act on it – such as providing easier access to information.
Therefore, one of the ways we’ve tried to make life a little easier for you is through developments in digital self-service options. Last year, despite the pandemic, significant enhancements to our secure pensions portal ‘Manage Your Account’ included adding a new virtual assistant and messaging function so you can receive rapid and targeted online support.
We’ve also seen the take-up of the new app which allows you to access information about your pension using your chosen digital device. The app easily links to any website that’s optimised for mobile screens, including HR systems and employee discount schemes.
Meanwhile, tied in with effective retirement planning is recognising that we also make sure we provide you with choice and flexibility in how you take your pension when the time comes.
Thanks to our responsive communications and initiatives, our Mastertrust is thriving – even despite the uncertainties brought by COVID-19. In fact, the lessons we learned in 2020 about adopting more flexible platforms to encourage greater interaction between us means the level of engagement has never been so high.
We’re seizing this momentum by expanding the channels we use to give you a say in the services we provide, so we can keep developing our Mastertrust to help you plan for a better future.