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Developing a future self tool based on predictive knowledge for younger participants to feel more in control of their pension

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Do you remember the phrase “they grow up so fast”? Personally when I hear this, I immediately get flashbacks of my grandmother smiling proudly from ear to ear while saying this about me and my siblings. Maybe for you this was a parent, a neighbour, a teacher or a family friend. Or maybe you have a different memory with this phrase altogether. Babies turn into children, children grow up to be teenagers and before you know it those little munchkins have graduated and found their first ‘real’ job. Do we not all wish we could be forever young? We are all full of hopes and dreams for the future, never having enough time to do it all. Always studying, working and growing day by day. Some of us may already have dreams like travelling the world for when retirement comes around. Others may have different plans like learning to play the violin. Either way, you want to make sure that you can enjoy your retirement to the fullest, worry-free.
Do you know whether you will have enough saved by then to turn your dreams into reality? Have you ever actually looked into your pension before? And do not lie to me, or rather yourself, now. This is a safe space, no judgements. In fact, most of us have never really bothered to look into it before. So you are definitely not the only one if you have not. But why not?
A new pension system is on its way, which makes this the perfect time to dive deeper into this topic from now on. The upcoming changes should make pension more transparent and personal for participants. One of the consequences of these changes is the fact that the emphasis of pension accrual will be even more so on the start of people’s careers. This, along with the fact that they still have plenty of time to accrue their pension and make any changes if preferred, makes it especially interesting for young participants to engage with their pension. This way they can ensure a worry-free retirement. However, especially younger people have a difficult time imagining their future self and making plans for the long term. All these big life decisions can be rather overwhelming.
The goal of this project is to make younger participants [21-35 years] in the care and welfare sector feel more in control of their own pension by making them aware of the impact that they can have on it themselves. The idea is to develop a concept of a ‘future self’ tool for this that uses predictive knowledge.
A process of literature research, two rounds of interviews with participants and interactive workshops has led to a set of criteria for this ‘future self tool’. One of the main findings is that participants, of all ages, are just not that interested in their pension. Some can worry about it or feel bad that they have not looked into it before, but no one really does anything about it. No matter someone’s age, it just still feels too far away. This is why a pension specific tool is not going to do the trick here.
The Toekomstplanner (EN: Future planner) therefore does not focus on pension, but rather on the life events that younger participants are interested in already. From the interviews I have learned that especially decisions regarding moving to a new home or career related events are things that the target group already thinks about or even works towards. These decisions also have an impact on a person’s future, including their pension. The Toekomstplanner is an add-on to a participant’s Email platform. Participants can use the tool to create a checklist for a life event they plan to look into. The Toekomstplanner uses predictive knowledge to help the participant make a checklist for this life event that fits their current and future personal situation well. Pension tasks related to the life event are included in the checklist to introduce the participant to their pension in a more low key way. Next the Toekomstplanner again uses predictive knowledge to help the participant find a suitable moment to sit down and work on the checklist. In addition, The Hooked model by Nir Eyal was applied to the concept to design for a habit-forming tool that is ingrained in participants’ daily lives.
When people are more knowledgeable, this decreases negative emotions like worry and increases their feeling of being in control. When people feel more in control they are also more likely to prefer delayed rewards like pension over instant gratification. Positive experiences with the Toekomstplanner elevate PFZW’s customer satisfaction to a new level and the tool provides PFZW with an easy way to connect with this younger target group that is relatively hard to reach for the pension fund.
The concept of the Toekomstplanner is not ready for implementation yet. The discussion section of the report reflects on the concept so far and presents recommendations for further research and exploration.