Chris Knight

Chief Executive Officer, Legal & General Retail Retirement

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Smart systems, smarter consumers

What do the future of retirement and FIFA 19 have in common? You might be surprised by the answer. Gaming is at the heart of human behaviour. The Romans played backgammon-like games; archaeologists in the Middle East have discovered 3,000 year old dice and the Chinese game ‘Go’ - invented more than 2,500 years ago – is still played today.

Gaming is at the heart of human behaviour. The Romans played backgammon-like games; archaeologists in the Middle East have discovered 3,000 year old dice and the Chinese game ‘Go’ - invented more than 2,500 years ago – is still played today. Today’s big retirement policy challenge is how to help people to connect what they do in their 30s with the life they want to lead in their 70s; we need to encourage a change in behaviour as big as the workplace savings revolution. So we have brought together the best people and the best technology to design new ways to help our customers to co-create their own retirement plan – plans designed to support hundred-year-lives.

Retirement in 2019 and beyond will be very different from retirement in the last century, when it first became part of everyday life. Society has driven these changes as it has developed - from pub-talk to whatsapp.; straight marriage to gay divorce; writing cheques to texting money – the world is a very different place from the one when retirement was first made.

Can tech help us to plan our retirements?

Of course, tech is behind a lot of the change we have seen and there’s no doubt that modern computational power could in theory 'solve' for the optimal set of retirement decisions, given the right “inputs”. But we are not in the business of handing down one-size-fits-all kind of answers. We should use tech to increase the scope for human interaction rather than eliminate it – let’s bring our customers’ knowledge, confidence and engagement up, so we can work together with them to co-create the future.

If co-creation is the means then behaviour change is the end. That’s where gamification and the FIFA example comes in. Generally speaking, for behaviour to change, three things need to come together: a trigger, some motivation and an ability. Gaming has a lot to offer to each. Take my younger son Jonathan, who is 13. It amazed me when I first watched him play FIFA 19 on his Xbox.

More than a game

First of all, there’s the trigger; ask him to do any kind of job or homework and suddenly he has a burning desire to play FIFA 19. He gets motivation from making progress through various leagues, competing against the machine and/or against his mates. And the abilities it develops are not always what you expect. FIFA 19 is not really about the playing of the actual match, moving the players around and the like. In fact, once the squad has been assembled, including negotiations with agents, sticking within the transfer budget and the salary cap, and once the line-up determined, he often uses the simulation mode to actually complete the formalities of the game itself. If you asked Jonathan to spend time learning about people management and basic budgeting skills, he’d turn his nose up. But give him a sports management course in the form of a game, then it’s all systems go!

We can’t ask everyone to do their homework but as an industry, we have plenty of ways to create triggers for action. For example, workplace pension providers will have 20 or 30 years of contact with customers to create trigger moments, or just to be there when people find their own triggers.

And by representing, if you like, our websites, hubs and tools into intuitive and interactive game-like experiences we will be able to do so much more for both motivation and ability too. We could help customers learn more for themselves and even learn more about themselves.

Tech disruption becomes normal life

Apps like DuoLingo are making learning itself (in this case learning languages) game-like and fun. And the #Trashtag movement shows how comparison of before and after, is bringing the ideas and practices of gamification ever more into the 'reality' of everyday life – often for the good of us all, and in areas not normally seen as being 'fun'.

In a few decades, in the UK, there will be 20 million people aged over 65 and this generation will be digital natives. Tech disruption will have become such a regular part of their lives that it will no longer be a disruptor – it’ll just be life.

And at the heart of our co-created strategies - the plans we opt into and those we opt out of, the targets we set ourselves, reacting to events we don’t expect - in the middle of all of this will be smart technology – with equally smart consumers.

The blog is based on part of a speech given by Chris Knight at The Horizons Conference on Lifetime Savings & Investments 2019.