Following our offices re-opening on 1 June and as lockdown has eased further, we are delighted to have most of our staff back in the Harrogate office on a part-time rota basis. We have limited the number of desks in use to ensure social distancing and fitted the office with all the essentials for their safety. Meetings on site are not permitted as yet but we continue to make good use of remote technology with Zoom, Skype and Microsoft Teams where these are required.
The Pensions Administration Standards Association (PASA) has recently issued updated Covid-19 guidance which encourages pension administrators to have online visibility, enriched functionality and a record of members email addresses, as their research has revealed that many pension schemes did not have these in place.
At Ascot Lloyd, we pride ourselves on the fact that we are constantly able to adapt with the ever changing world of pensions and the environment we operate in, so we were in a good position at the start of the pandemic to deal with the challenges lockdown presented and have continued to develop our services as the weeks have gone by.
While we initially dealt with the restrictions on communication by letter and office telephones, we soon adapted our systems ensuring our member records held email and telephone numbers to maintain our lines of communication. Furthermore, where appropriate we already had an online pensions system in place on our schemes so that members could readily check their pension savings themselves and be reassured that their savings were in safe hands.
With our offices being closed, we have had to suspend the time-consuming printing of items such as payslips but continued with essential bulk mailings, by outsourcing the production to our stationary suppliers under our strict GDPR procedures. Some of these procedures will continue as they have proven effective and efficient and from what we have learnt during this period, we have developed an online pensioner payroll system to provide payslips and information electronically for Defined Benefit Scheme members.
The PASA research reported that “older people show increasing digital savvy, with half now having access to a tablet computer”. As more pensioners become familiar and comfortable with accessing information through technology, many will welcome this new service, but we will be flexible and continue to provide paper payslips to those who prefer this approach.
As we cannot lose sight of the fact that a second peak may hit the UK and some areas are seeing localised lockdowns, we must remain vigilant and in control of our services and well prepared should this happen. We will continue to learn and adapt in these changing and challenging times, to maintain the delivery of a high quality, efficient and reliable administration services to all our clients.
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If you would like any more information on these matters, please contact your Ascot Lloyd consultant/contact directly.
Note: The content of this Pensions Briefing should not be deemed as advice. No section of this Pensions Briefing, reporting or data should be considered a client specific, or a personal client recommendation.
Advising on and arranging of occupational pension schemes is not regulated by the FCA. Arranging group personal pensions (GPP) and group stakeholder pensions (GSP) (which are not occupational pension schemes) may be deemed to be a regulated activity by the FCA once members start joining the scheme.