Danes reject pension apps, survey shows

The vast majority of Danes prefer to check their pension savings on a computer, according to a new population survey. And yet, most pension companies have an app. "The costs for developing such an app are so very low," says PKA, which has just launched its own app.
Tomas Frydenberg, head of membership and actuarial matters at PKA. | Photo: PR
Tomas Frydenberg, head of membership and actuarial matters at PKA. | Photo: PR

Mobile phones are not the hardware of choice for people in Denmark, when it comes to checking details of returns, savings, and insurance from their pension provider. This is clear from the results of a new representative population survey conducted by Wilke for AMWatch. In the period between Oct. 23 and Nov. 2, 804 pension savers were polled on how they prefer to check their pension. Some 72.5 percent said they prefer to use a PC, 6.1 percent said direct contact with the pension company was best, while just 14 percent preferred to check their pension on a mobile or tablet. There are plenty of pension apps to choose from, but the preference among Danes for using a computer may be correlated with how frequently they find it necessary to check their pension.

Sampension has app in pipeline

The poll results revealed 88.5 percent of respondents believed they only needed to check their pension a few times a year, once a year, rarely, or never, while only 8.1 percent prefered to check their pension scheme several times a week, once a week or every month. Some 69.8 percent prefer to check their pension savings at home. The results of the investigation comes as no surprise to Morten Lund Madsen, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Sampension, which is currently developing new digital solutions, including an app for the pension fund's customers.

"This clearly proves customers are not currently very enthusiastic about such tools," he tells AMWatch. Sampension is developing an app as part of a bigger digital solution in order to meet the customers on their turf both now and in the future, and the pension fund is seeing more and more customers logging in to currently available solutions from mobile phones or tablets.

"We believe that more and more people will expect to be able to access their pension company easily and intuitively on their smartphones."

Morten Lund Madsen acknowledges that there is a challenge ahead for Sampension in terms of developing a digital solution that customers actually want to use, but the results from the Wilke survey are not discouraging him from spending resources on developing an app. "We have to provide a proper digital solution for our customers. When we develop digital solutions, the additional costs of having an app in the repertoire are too low to matter," he says.

PKA just launched an app

The company PKA recently launched an app for its pension customers. The app "Your Pension" has actually been available for a few weeks, but PKA didn’t announce in until Monday through its newsletter. Tomas Frydenberg, head of membership and actuarial matters at PKA, says that it is part of PKA's digital strategy to go where members are.

"So if we want to even stand a chance of being relevant to our members, we obviously have to be on the digital channels they use," he says. He does not have an exact total for the number of app users, but says that the app should cause more than the current two-thirds of PKA customers to log into their accounts every year.

"Through user surveys among our customers, we have learned that if they have to log in and check their pension savings more often, it needs to be easier and more accessible. For example, those who have the e-Boks app or an online banking app have checked it more often than those who don’t have apps," says Tomas Frydenberg,.

Intended to make customers check more frequently

However, he acknowledges that e-Boks and online banking apps are both matters that need more frequent checking than do pension savings.

Why download the app if I will only need it once a year?

"You need to use it because otherwise, according to our surveys, you'll never get around to checking your pension at all. We hope that when you download it, the features on it will make you inclined to check more often. But we don’t expect you to use it as much as your online banking app. So the app is clearly intended as a tool to attract more customers towards actively checking their savings, but also an opportunity for us to get in touch with our customers," Tomas Frydenberg says.

If the app is intended for people to check their pension savings once a year, does it match up to the development costs?

"Absolutely. The cost of developing such an app is very small, and as we have 300,000 customers to launch it to, it's a very small expense per customer," says Tomas Frydenberg, stating it has cost under less than DKK 100,000 to develop the app.

Danica has success with app

At Danica, the pension app "Mobilpension" is a success.

"What we can tell is that those who choose to use our app have a completely different interaction with us than other pension customers have. They log in and look at their pension situation ten times as often in a year as those who "only" use Netpension," says Peter M. Nielsen, Head of Sales Development at Danica.

20 percent of Danica's customers use the app, while another 20 percent logs onto the website via mobile or tablet. Those who use the app use it about 20 times a year, says Peter M. Nielsen. He believes that the app is so popular because Danica has managed to divide the information into smaller sections for the customers to approach more easily. "We can see that the shift towards mobile is happening quite fast. We are growing almost 20 percent per year in terms of mobile device use versus ordinary web browser. So the demand is coming and growing still, so we must be accessible – especially for younger generations, which, in a pension context, refers to people under the age of 50.

Pensam does not experience strong demand

Neither Pensam, which covers the FOA area, or Denmark's largest pension company, PFA, have an app. "I honestly do not think that pension is the easiest thing to get an overview of by going on an app. It is, of course, a tool for dialogue with the customers, and we will make a digital appearance. But we very deliberately did not strive to be the first in this field. Because I don’t see that strong a demand," says Torsten Fels, CEO of Pensam.

"A number of the examples that I see are characterized by a bit too much inside-out approach instead of addressing the customer’s needs," he continues.

Don’t you think that if you asked your customers if they want a pension app in Pensam, they would say yes?

"Yes. But if you ask people if they want something, they will say yes. However, if you ask people if they will use something, then it’s a different story. That's what I read from your Wilker results. It’s important to distinguish between what you want and what you need," Torsten Fels says.

PFA leave out app for technical reasons

At PFA, customers can download a shortcut to the "My PFA" portal for their mobile or tablet. This is essentially the browser solution that has been modified for mobile users, but the pension company has not developed an actual app. However, PFA has a more technical reason for not developing an app.

"The choice was very much motivated by what was future-proof. An app has the disadvantage of people having to download it first to use it, whereas everyone has access to a browser," says Carsten Holdum, consumer economist at PFA.

PFA’s customers are slowly shifting towards logging on My PFA via mobile. In 2015, 19 percent logged in via mobile compared to 37 percent now. Tablet users lie stable at 12-13 percent. Although the company still has the ambition for customers to be able to adjust pension details while on the train if the need should overcome them, PFA no longer pushes on as much as before.

"We try to move away from the rhetoric that you must keep up with your pension scheme. We'd rather get to a point where it’s enough to check up on it at appropriate times, such as job change, divorce, weddings and birth" says Carsten Holdum.

English Edit: Marie Honoré

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