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Aon: Engaging members with the Internet of Things

Communication and engagement are terms, sometimes used interchangeably to describe the efforts to reach out to our pension scheme members.

But differentiating between communication and engagement, and respecting their very different and important functions, is absolutely crucial to success.

We are ‘communicating’ with our members when we send them information about our scheme. When we are issuing a message or creating understanding.

So, communication can sometimes feel like a bit of a one-way street. We are ‘engaging’ our members when we actively involve them in problem solving or decision making. When we are focused more on listening to what they need and actively incorporating that into how we manage and communicate our scheme.

We are, in essence, opening up a two-way channel of communication.

Director, Retirement and Investment at AON Frank Keating.


In recent years, a lot of focus has shifted to behavioral economics and in particular the concept of Nudge theory.

Nudge in the context of pension provision, essentially involves designing your communications to best encourage individuals to make positive choices and in the absence of making choices, to ensure that the default position is the most positive for members

The most topical example is having auto enrolment instead of voluntary enrolment but there are many others.

Countless studies have proven that, due to procrastination and other factors, individuals are far less likely to opt out of something than they are to opt into something.

So we will nudge you to take guided decisions but if you don’t, we will make the best ones for you.


The planned introduction of occupational pensions for all through auto-enrolment together with the emphasis on DC member engagement and education means that personalisation in communication is becoming much more important.

That personalisation also requires a simplification of the message and focus on the key questions that members need to consider -

What do I need (in retirement)?

Your ‘On Target’ indicator:

Am I on track?

If not, what do I do?

Conversational Interfaces:

Another aspect of personalisation which is evolving is how providers interact with members given the advances in technology and the changing expectations of different generations.

Pension providers will be expected to respond quickly in SMS text-like fashion to individual queries.

Technology has a critical role to play here.

Advances in AI (artificial intelligence) has meant that “chat-bots” are becoming increasingly sophisticated — often with self learning ability, enabling common queries to be answered without the need to refer to live support.

But live support will be expected to be just that — instant, conversation like solutions through the social media platform of choice.

Alexa, what is the chance of a decent retirement?

User-friendly technology is playing an important role in how people make everyday choices. Studies in the US suggest that 30% of adults will soon use a voice-controlled internet device such as Amazon’s Alexa on a daily basis.

The internet of things means that all of your household appliances from your doorbell to your fridge can be connected and centrally controlled.

…the fact that you can now buy a virtual assistant for less than €100 that will play your music, tell you the news, control your home appliances, and order your takeaway…all through Voice recognition.

Studies in the US suggest that 30% of adults will soon use a voice-controlled internet device such as Amazon’s Alexa on a daily basis.

Already, a growing number of financial institutions have enable Alexa skills to allow customers to check balances and transact via voice command.

The uptake amongst older generations has been particularly impressive.

The simplicity and immediacy of these solutions has implications for how pension scheme members and retirees will engage with their pension service providers in the not too distant future.

Remember, engagement is all about listening closely to what people want and then providing them with the solutions.

At Aon, our member website has been built around allowing members to take action and make choices and requests in a user-friendly way.

Developing this platform further to meet expectations and avail of technological advances is a journey we are very excited to be on.

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