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A blueprint for building on site

The range of issues confronting the 21st Century IFA is daunting.

Stakeholder pen- sions are just a year away. Electronic commerce is here

already. Polarisation is an issue that never seems to go away. IFAs

themselves are asking if they can survive if their remuneration is

dependent on the sale of a product.

In line with that, IFAs are focusing on advice as their product rather

than the financial products themselves. They are building their businesses

by developing opportunities to disseminate advice in different parts of the

changing financial services marketplace.

Worksite marketing is one opportunity to provide advice cost-effectively.

In essence, it is about creating opportunities to communicate with people

in groups in the workplace and thus provides a continuous source of new

prospects for IFAs and providers alike. With the forthcoming launch of

stakeholder pensions, worksite marketing is a concept whose time has come.

The reasons are obvious. For every employer with five or more employees

but without suitable pension provision, the need to provide access to a

stakeholder pension scheme is rapidly becoming a fact of life. Schemes

start to operate in April 2001 and, six months after that, the requirement

that employers must provide access to schemes comes into force.

This will transform the opportunities for distributing financial services

and products to people at their place of work.

Already, in the US, some commentators are predicting that the worksite

market for financial services will grow by 10 to 15 per cent annually over

the next decade, making it one of the most dynamic areas of growth in the

entire industry.

In the UK, it is stakeholder pensions which will almost certainly be the

spur for similar growth. In essence, to be successful, worksite marketing

has to make the workplace a convenient forum within which people can look

at financial services and products with confidence.

The potential rewards from creating such forums is enormous.

Ernst & Young recently cited research showing that 70 per cent of people

would be willing to buy voluntary financial products through their employer

if they were sold at a modest discount. The same survey also found that 56

per cent of employees who had attended an employer- sponsored worksite

marketing presentation bought some form of life insurance.

The opportunities are enormous. There are a lot of employers which are

going to have to provide access to stakeholder pensions and they will need

the help of IFAs to negotiate the framework of rules that is rapidly being

constructed. But pension provision forms only part of the potential

inherent in worksite marketing.

Extending the principles to embrace worksite marketing as a whole gives

employers the opportunity to enhance the benefits package they offer their

employees, at no cost to themselves. It is, therefore, a win-win situation

for the employee, the employer and the adviser.

But how does the IFA get involved in mining this potentially rich seam?

There has to be a three-stage plan of action:

Establish a worksite marketing “partnership”.

Identify the worksite marketing opportunities.

Communicate the value of worksite marketing programmes.

Effective worksite marketing requires a partnership between advisers and

their selected product providers. Working together, they can create a

package of benefits which adds value to employers and their employees.

Stakeholder pensions can be a very effective prompt for this to happen

but, even where an employer already provides a well-developed occupational

scheme, there is often scope to enhance the financial services offering to


At the same time, working together, advisers and their chosen product

providers can build up knowledge and understanding of the business needs of

individual employers.

The employee benefits&#39 package which one type of business – say,

construction – has to offer to recruit and retain the best staff will often

be dramatically different from the package which another type of business –

say, manufacturing – has to offer.

So, after establishing effective links with a range of providers, the

adviser can then move to the second stage of identifying specific worksite

marketing opportunities.

It is never easy to generate new business – but it is essential to any

business. The key here is to understand who are the key organisational

decision-makers – the people who set and implement policy for pay and

reward are usually the most relevant individuals to target – and then help

them understand what worksite marketing can do for them and their


It is at this point, that the partnership principle has to be extended.

Worksite marketing only works where the adviser works closely with the

employer and is able to persuade the employer that it enhances the overall

package the company offers its employees in a way that actually adds value

to the business.

The fact that stakeholder pensions are almost upon us means that the pay

and reward is particularly high on employers&#39 agenda at the moment.

The best means of persuading employers to buy into the worksite concept is

if the package does not require extra staff on their part and if the

service costs nothing. On a more positive note, a good package can cut the

costs of providing employees&#39 benefits and improve employees&#39 satisfaction

– all by helping the employer to become a facilitator of benefits, rather

than a provider.

It is important to note also that a worksite marketing strategy will

differ between employers. At one extreme, it may amount to little more than

an opportunity for an adviser to establish some kind of presence in the

workplace. At the other extreme, it may be formalised as part of the

employee benefits package.

Either way, the business opportunity is obvious.

The point at which employers have bought into the worksite marketing

concept is not the point at which the job is done. All employers can do is

open the door to their employees. But those employees are potential clients

for the IFA and customers for the provider, and they represent very warm

leads indeed. This takes us to the final stage in the process – converting

those leads into new business opportunities.

Worksite marketing requires good presentation techniques, bespoke to

individual organisations, which relate directly the benefits on offer to

the needs of the employees in question. The “any colour so long as it&#39s

black” model will not do.

Worksite audiences are far too discerning for this approach, so

communication with them has to be intelligent and appropriate to their


This is especially so given that worksite marketing ought to imply a

long-term relationship between providers, adviser, employer and employee.

That long-term relationship can be very beneficial for all concerned but

it requires the proper investment of time and effort at the outset.

Groups of employees share a common benefit package from their employer.

Information about their potential needs should be readily available. If the

right worksite marketing opportunities have been identified, then

communication to employees can also be adjusted according to their needs.

At its most basic, worksite marketing is simply the provision of financial

information and advice to the employees of individual companies and

organisations. IFAs have proved themselves time and again as an efficient

and value-adding distribution channel. They are well placed to tap into

this rich seam of potential by bringing together a partnership with

employers and providers which yields genuine benefits for them all.


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