We’ve all encountered a bully before - whether it’s the quintessential bigger kid in the school yard or the unrelenting boss who likes to receive weekend emails from you. Bullies use their strength to influence, harm or intimidate those they perceive as weaker. And the corporate playground is full of them.
Today, I published an open letter to the CEO of a large pension company, Aegon. The letter details the frustrations of our mutual customers trying to transfer their pensions to their new provider, typically to combine a few small pension pots and take control of their retirement. Their experience with Aegon is wildly in contrast with their transfer experience with most other UK pension companies, who honour their customers’ wishes expediently.
You see, in our opinion, Aegon has been bullying our mutual customers, requiring them to fill in multiple complicated forms, make trips to the post office and take hours out of their busy days in order to take control of THEIR OWN money. But don’t just take our word for it, check out these tweets from frustrated customers...
So true - I’m sure it’s their ploy to make people stay by either flooding them with paperwork or just ‘losing’ the returned documents! pic.twitter.com/aLdSJFPrni— Gordon Miller (@Gordon_T_Miller) January 24, 2018
On top of this we also believe Aegon is also bullying us, the relative newcomers in the industry. Of course, there is enormous financial benefit in keeping customers locked into financial products they actually wish to leave.
We thought it was time to take a public stand against this type of behavior in the pensions industry and to stand up to corporate bullying. At PensionBee, we believe in doing right by the customer and in changing the pensions industry to serve the interests of the savers. So I asked my team why they think it’s important to stand up to bullies. And their answers were telling...
1. Bullies perpetuate a negative environment
Often, bullies like to intimidate because they themselves have been bullied in the past. If we allow bullying to continue, the vicious cycle knows no end. The boss who bullies you into working over the weekend is creating a monster who is more likely to bully their own employees one day as a rite of passage. We believe that - as a pension industry - we will only be able to encourage people to save for retirement once all pension providers treat their customers with respect and support.
2. Most people actually disagree with bullies
When you are being bullied, it can seem like the world is against you, but actually most people dislike bullying or seeing others get bullied. Every time someone speaks out against a bully it gives other people strength to do the same, and before you know it the bully doesn’t have their power anymore. In pensions, the more people speak out against what’s wrong in the sector, the more other providers will have the courage to place customer interests at the forefront of their behavior.
3. It’s the right thing to do
A lot of the past year has seen the world focusing on doing the right thing, whether it comes to climate change or treating our fellow human beings with decency. I spend most of my time thinking about how we can make pension saving better, and how we can help people prepare for retirement - because financial security is a good thing. And as a mum, I see no more important task than showing my son to do as I do (and not just to do as I say!)
So I hope this post will inspire others to stand up to bullies. For who else should you rely on to make changes but you?