NEST, Pensions and the Traveling Wilburys

Helen Powell

The duty to auto-enrol workers into pension saving draws ever closer. All employers face the challenge of explaining the new regime to their workforce in the run-up to their staging date, so that workers can understand the flurry of information that arrives around their auto-enrolment date. Keen to help, NEST has published a set of ‘Golden Rules‘ for talking to members about pensions and auto-enrolment.

With apologies for a slight outbreak of Wednesday morning cynicism, here’s a summary of NEST’s Golden Rules:

  • • keep it real, using examples people can relate to
  • • talk about rights not responsibilities
  • • don’t talk about getting old [Ed: while obviously still ‘keeping it real’]
  • • emphasise that auto-enrolment is happening to everyone, not just them
  • • present the facts and avoid spin [Ed: but don’t talk about getting old]
  • • tell people about their choices – make them feel in control
  • • give people access to the right level of information
  • • be positive – talk about solutions, not problems [Ed: but avoid spin]

Launching his rules on the public at large, NEST chief executive Tim Jones decided to ‘keep it real’ by comparing the Golden Rules to 80s English-American supergroup The Traveling Wilburys. Now, it may be that the complete works of this Bob Dylan/Jeff Lynne/Tom Petty/Roy Orbison/George Harrison combo spring immediately to your mind – or indeed to your cd player. However if, like me, you find the parallel between the Wilburys and NEST’s member communication rules less than immediately obvious, let me clarify: Tim Jones wasn’t referring to the fact that the Wilburys took their name from a joke about a series of performance errors caused by faulty equipment (quote George Harrison to Jeff Lynne: “We’ll bury ’em in the mix”). Nor was it a parable about creating additional wealth for retirement by getting together after dinner with your mates for a jam session in the studio of Bob Dylan’s Malibu beachhouse.

Apparently, the analogy Tim Jones was going for was that Bob, Jeff, Tom, Roy and George “managed to work together to create wonderful music. It was all about team work and about them suppressing their own individual egos to work together, allowing their individual talent to shine through. So what we think is these individual rules work together, it’s difficult to pick and choose from them and remain coherent.” Obvious, huh?

I think keeping it real just reached the End of The Line*.


 * See what I did there?

Helen Powell is a senior professional support lawyer at Allen & Overy LLP.

Comments published on Pensions Talk do not necessarily reflect the views of Allen & Overy or its clients.

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