Standard Life launches Joint Research Initiative with the OECD

by | Mar 4, 2022

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  • The new Initiative will examine the challenges people face regarding retirement income and identify approaches being used globally
  • A further strand of work will explore how to meet the needs of diverse workforces through analysis on the role that gender, ethnicity and socioeconomic factors play in shaping savings behaviours

Standard Life, part of Phoenix Group, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have today announced a major new Joint Research Initiative.

The three-year deal will be funded by Standard Life and will enable a team of OECD researchers and policy experts on pension issues to explore two of the major challenges facing retirement savers. The work will form part of the OECD’s Programme of Work on Pensions.

A global perspective on retirement income

The first element of the Initiative will examine the challenges associated with achieving financial security in retirement. By reviewing global thinking, the Initiative will set out to identify innovative retirement income approaches being used elsewhere to meet the needs of individuals and society more broadly.

The OECD will look for innovative retirement income products and the guarantees provided in different countries to improve certainty of income and reduce the possibility of running out of money. It will also assess the advantages and disadvantages of these solutions and the conditions under which they have been used.

How best to service the needs of a diverse workforce

Based on feedback from employers and their advisers, a second element of the Initiative will focus on the growing challenge of meeting the diverse needs of their employees. With engagement being a top concern for many, employers have said that they want to understand whether the solutions and support that is offered is fit for purpose. Accordingly, the Initiative will have a specific focus on how factors such gender, culture, ethnicity and socio-economic background influence savings attitudes and behaviours and ultimately the solutions and support that is needed.

The Initiative will build on insight from Standard Life’s Bringing Retirement into Focus report1 which found just 57% of women say they are confident making financial decisions, compared to 70% of men and this gap persists among younger generations. It also found just 19% of low income individuals said they spent time considering their financial plans. These were just two examples which challenge the idea that a one-size fits all approach to engagement is effective.

An agenda setting programme

The OECD will discuss elements of the research findings over the next three years and will publish them in future editions of the OECD’s Pensions Outlook. Standard Life will use the findings to support clients and policy makers both in the UK and other markets, and ultimately hopes to be able incorporate findings from the Initiative into its proposition development.

Commenting on the partnership, Andy Curran, Chief Executive of Standard Life said: “The OECD’s combination of international reach and pensions expertise is unrivalled, and we’re excited to embark on this project with them. Our aim through the JRI is to foster innovation in the way we meet the diverse needs and wants of savers. By incorporating further research on gender, ethnicity, culture and socio-economic factors the OECD will help us shorten the time it takes to enhance our propositions, taking account of the latest international thinking. This initiative forms part of Standard Life’s wider commitment to invest in our brand and complements the work I announced last week to close the ‘Guidance Gap’. Through investment in market-leading projects like these, Standard Life is determined to help more people live a life of possibilities.” 

Pablo Antolin, Principal Economist at the Private Pension Unit of the OECD adds: “The OECD is delighted to announce the joint research initiative with Standard Life encompassing retirement income and gender, diversity, equality and inclusion issues.  Both work areas are important to consider not only in the United Kingdom but elsewhere across the globe.  We argue that to address the main challenges that ageing societies present for retirement, we need to understand the different views and concerns of the different stakeholders in the world of pensions and retirement. This joint research initiative brings the views and concerns of a key player to the fore and will help us in our role of providing policy guidelines to policy makers worldwide.” 

About the OECD team

Dr Pablo Antolín is Principal Economist, Head of the Private Pensions Unit and Deputy Head of the OECD Consumer Finance, Insurance and Pensions Division. His work covers issues related to the design, operation and regulation of asset-backed pension systems. In the past, Dr. Antolín has worked on the impact of ageing populations on the economy and on public finances.

Jessica Mosher is a policy analyst in the Private Pension Unit of the OECD, where she has primarily focused on issues relating to longevity and the design of the pay-out phase, as well as research relating to fintech and financial advice.

Stéphanie Payet is a policy analyst in the OECD’s Private Pensions Unit. She has more than 10 years of experience in analysing private pension systems around the world, with a particular focus on issues related to retirement savings adequacy, pension coverage, taxation of retirement savings, and plan design.

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