The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) was commissioned by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) to evaluate the impact of the ‘Stronger Nudge’ interventions on the number of people who receive Pension Wise guidance before they access their pension savings. The key components of the Stronger Nudge were to explain the nature and purpose of the Pension Wise guidance, increase the prominence of the guidance during the call by offering it as a normal part of the pension access journey, and to make it easy for pension savers to book a Pension Wise appointment.
The interventions were delivered by call handlers at three pension providers: Aviva, Hargreaves Lansdown and Legal & General. When pension savers called to access their pension or to enquire about their pension options, call handlers used a pre-defined script incorporating wording to nudge people to take an appointment. Then two different interventions were tested; one group was offered to have the call handler book the customer a Pension Wise guidance appointment, the other was offered a warm transfer to Pension Wise who would book an appointment for them. Once the pension saver was transferred to Pension Wise, call handlers delivered a similar pitch which aimed to nudge the caller to book an appointment. These interventions were tested against the business as usual signposting process which typically involved signposting pension savers to the Pension Wise website or appointment booking line.
The interventions were successful at increasing the number of pension savers receiving Pension Wise guidance, providing further evidence of the significant impact that nudges can have on behaviour. The impact of the ‘Stronger Nudge’ was significantly higher than most other policy interventions that use nudges, which suggests that the environment was particularly appropriate for such an intervention.
The research also shed more light on why pension savers decide not to take guidance. Many felt that they had already made their decision and didn’t need further help, or already knew enough having previously had guidance or advice, or had undertaken their own research. On balance the intervention was successfully implemented, despite some initial implementation issues with delivery of the script.