With a background as a pensions consultant, Michaela O’Reilly, head of reward, was keen to develop a culture of financial wellbeing when she joined market research firm Ipsos six years ago.
Initially the focus was on pensions, with the employer hosting sessions to raise awareness among staff around the need to save for retirement and ensure they did not opt out of auto-enrolment. This has developed into wider financial education sessions, and introducing both a workplace individual savings account (Isa) and the lifetime Isa, which around 50 people have signed up to so far.
Employees can benefit here from lower rates than would be possible otherwise, and can also pick the level of risk they are comfortable with for the stocks and shares option. Money is deducted from payroll. “If you don’t have it coming out on payday, it’s very easy to forget about it and you might not have it at the end of the month,” says O’Reilly.
The business now runs around 40 financial education sessions a year, held online, which can attract anything from 20 to 100 people. Around 1,200 in all attended a session last year.
Sessions are typically run by Secondsight but Ipsos has also brought in providers to help with these, including Cushon, which operates the Isas, and Charles Cameron and Associates offering free mortgage advice. “It has a real impact then, because employees can see how the benefits work in real life,” says O’Reilly.
Over time, these have developed into more advanced or specialist areas, such as more advanced pensions education or designated events around accessing pensions for those aged over 40. “I can see people actively doing things after the sessions, such as changing their pension contributions,” adds O’Reilly.
Last year, it also hosted an interview between the firm’s HR director and a financial advisor from Secondsight, attended by around 150 people. The interview covered a range of topics such as buying a home and pensions, directing people to any employee benefits where relevant.
The organisation’s other financial benefits include savings and loans, provided by Salary Finance, designed to help those who have debt on a more expensive arrangement such as a credit card find a better alternative, as well as a discounts platform offering reduced rates from 800 retailers and other providers, and access to financial coaching as a salary sacrifice arrangement through Octopus MoneyCoach.
Ipsos is also planning to introduce financial wellbeing clinics, where employees can have access to a 20-minute slot with a financial adviser from Secondsight.
Michaela O’Reilly will be speaking about building an effective financial wellbeing strategy at Employee Benefits Live on Thursday 6 October at ExCel London.