Smart Pension is a global savings technology platform provider. It is also one of the UK’s largest providers of workplace pensions. Its award-winning master trust was co-founded in 2014 by Andrew Evans, CEO, and Will Wynne, MD, and launched in May 2015. Europe’s second largest asset manager Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) took a minority stake in the digital pension platform in 2016 and in 2019 J.P. Morgan made a strategic investment. Smart’s members get access to its pensions platform via an app and web-based technology solutions. It is also easy to use for employers, making setting up and managing auto enrolment and defined contribution (DC) company pension schemes easy.
We spoke to Dan McLaughlin, director of international, about the company's growth plans in the UK and overseas.
What does your company do?
“We are an award-winning fintech in the pensions space - the only UK fintech doing workplace pensions, so pretty unique. We can set up pension schemes in 10 or 15 minutes as opposed to a month or two in the legacy world. We provide a very modern user interface and controls so people can engage with and manage their pension on their smartphone via our app, or even hands-free technology such as Alexa and Google Home hubs to find out real-time information. Gone are the days of piles of dusty papers, waiting to be read. We built our own technology from the ground up to deliver a world class experience for employees, employers and advisers. It is this synchronous technology that is so attractive to other financial institutions.
“In the UK, we are one of the largest providers of workplace pensions, with our own regulated Master Trust. We are also a global savings technology provider, white labelling our technology via Platform as a Service to financial institutions that are seeking to modernise and enhance their pension proposition.”
When did you set up in the UK?
“We were founded in 2014 on the back of pension auto enrolment in the UK and launched to market in 2015 - and it's been rapid growth since then. We have hundreds of thousands of members on our platform. Auto enrolment created an opportunity because lots of people now have to save for retirement via a workplace pension and that creates a bigger market.”
What are the attractions of being in the UK?
“Pretty plain and simple: the UK is massively conducive to doing business. It's a fantastic business environment with high regulatory standards (particularly in pensions), strong consumer protections with access to world class talent and skills. And the UK – specifically London – is an unbelievable fintech hub and one of the biggest in the world. It gives us access to top quality talent which we need to fuel our growth.
“The UK’s stability in terms of rule of law and our high standards of regulation are major selling points too. We were having a conversation just last week with a big financial asset manager in Europe. When they realised that we are a regulated pension provider in the UK and that we have met all the high regulatory standards in the UK, then the lights really went on.”
What are your international growth plans?
“There is an exciting global opportunity. Internationally our data driven strategy identifies markets that provide a good fit. Defined contribution pensions and related reforms are growing wherever you look and we are actively pursuing growth opportunities across the world. The reality is, the challenges are the same everywhere: how do you get more people to save enough for a good retirement?
“Overseas, we provide our technology as a Platform as a Service, that's essentially partnering with a financial institution and providing our technology to them. There's quite a lot of interest. We've already got our first international partnership deal with New Ireland Assurance, which is part of the Bank of Ireland Group and we are pushing ahead with plans in the US and Australia.”