You might not know it, but if you’re working, you’re almost certainly paying into a pension. Pensions aren’t just about retirement. They are invested in companies who use your money to create the products and services we interact with every day. At the moment, our pensions are funding climate and nature breakdown.
Most people’s fund choices are limited by our pension providers and sometimes by our employers. So there’s not always an easy and immediate action you can take to make sure your pension builds the world you want it to. That’s why we’re campaigning for laws that make all pension providers tackle climate and nature breakdown, by making them act in line with UN targets to stop the climate emergency. If this happens, your pension will be building a climate-proofed world without you having to change providers or funds.
The Pensions Bill is an upcoming piece of government legislation looking at rules around pensions and their investments. We’re expecting it to be debated and voted on in late 2019 and early 2020. We’re lobbying UK MPs and need your help to make the case to them.
Pension providers can use their power as owners of companies to carry out engagement – where they try and change the practices of companies they invest in. By asking questions at company annual general meetings, and filing and voting on shareholder resolutions, they can push companies to align their business model to the goals of the Paris Agreement – a world with only 1.5 degrees of global heating. If companies refuse to engage or take action, then the pension provider should divest from that company.
Did you know about the impact your pension has on the world before you visited this site? Do your friends know? Most people don’t and that’s a problem. If not enough of us are saying we want our pensions do good, not cause harm, then we won’t be heard. Can you share our video?
Are you from an organisation whose audience will find this interesting, or want to share this to your followers? Use our campaign pack, full of pre-written tweets, posts and emails for you to use.
Your pension belongs to you. But it’s your employer who decides which pension provider manages your money and therefore what funds are available to you. You may have the choice to switch 1 into an ethical fund, or you may have no choice at all. Either way, your employer holds the keys. They are the pension provider’s customer. Getting a conversation going in the workplace is one of the best routes to having a pension that builds the world you want.
choice to switch1 – As a rough rule of thumb, if you work in the public sector or started paying into a scheme before 1995, you probably won’t have a choice. See our FAQs for more.
1) Talk to your colleagues
Do you reckon they know about the impact of their pension on the world? How do you think they’d respond if they knew what companies their money is invested in?
2) Ask your employer to contact the pension provider and tell them they want our money to do good
It’s rare for pension providers to hear from our employers that we want our money to be doing good. If they aren’t hearing it, they don’t think their customers want it. If employers ask a simple question, pension providers will start to realise. You can use our template email to ask your employer to get in touch with the provider.
3) Ask your employer to change your pension provider, or the funds available to you
If it turns out the fund options you have aren’t good enough, you can ask your employer to make a change. First, find out if your employer helps2 decide which funds are available to you. Use our template email to ask them to make a change.
if your employer helps2 – As a rule of thumb, if you work for a large organisation (250+ employees) your employer will have helped. See our FAQs for more.
4) Talk to us
It may be that you or your employer want more info before doing anything. We’re happy to help where we can. Get in touch with us and arrange for us to come in and chat about pensions, the world they are building, and the options available to you and your employer. We can either do a talk for lots of people in you office or hop on a call with decision-makers. We’ll do all of this for free, but will need travel covering if we come to you.
This depends on a couple of factors. Ask yourself these questions:
Who has the power to make decisions about pensions in your organisation? It’s probably up to HR or your operations departments to stay on top of pensions. However, people in leadership positions will have a big influence too.
Who are you close to? Do those with power match up to those you have positive working relationships with or who you are in touch with regularly? If so, make use of this relationship. If you aren’t as close, think about who is – you could always ask them to bring it up.
Picking a pension provider isn’t a quick and easy decision for an employer. It costs money, and they have to make sure they choose one who is going to make sure your pension is looked after well. Why not point them in the direction of these 2 resources:
Your employer has lots of power in choosing your current provider. But for lots of people, you can take steps to move your money to providers and funds that suit you.
If your pension provider gives you the choice of 2 or more funds to put your pension money into, it can be fairly straightforward to make a change. You’ll have been put into a ‘default’ fund to start with. The other options you have may be more to your liking, and you can choose to switch into them.
The easiest way to switch is to log-in1 to your online pension account. If you’ve not logged into this before you’ll need some details to do so – you should have been sent these by your pension provider. If you’ve not got your details give them a call or ask your HR department at work. For some providers, such as NEST, once you’re on your online account you can switch in minutes. With others you may have to do some digging – check out their FAQs or help section, or search ‘fund choices’. Another option is to give your pension provider a call. They should be able to assist you in switching, but again, you’ll need to have your account details.
You can change your current pension provider, but you run the risk of losing your employer contribution to your pension – don’t do this without checking with them first. Our friends at Good With Money have written a Good Guide to Pensions, which has lots of information on the cost, performance and investments of different funds offered by pension providers. You can use this to inform you about the options you have and what they mean for people and planet. Don’t forget, there are other factors at play when you switch funds such as cost and risk. Make sure you feel comfortable with these.
log-in1 – To log in: when you were enrolled in your scheme, you should have received a letter with instructions. If you can’t find this speak to your employer or call your provider.
If you have other pension pots from past jobs, you can usually transfer2 these to another provider. Your current provider should accept these transfers, and there are pension providers that specialise in aggregating pension pots from old jobs.
Are you self-employed?
If you’re self-employed then you have the power and responsibility to set up a pension for yourself. Good With Money’s Good Guide to Pensions is a great place to inform yourself. Don’t forget – there are other factors at play when you switch funds such as cost and risk. Make sure you feel comfortable with these.
What if I’m unhappy with the options available to me?
It’s not unusual for ethical funds to invest in some companies you don’t think are that great. Sometimes this will be because they are trying to use their power as an owner of that company to change their practices. However, there are definitely examples of ethical funds where the definition of ethical given by the provider is inadequate. We understand that can be frustrating, and that’s why we’ve got other actions for you to take too. If your ethical fund suits you more than your default fund, then switching can still be a good shorter-term first step, as long as you’re comfortable with the differences in risk and cost. Over the longer-term, talking about this in your workplace or signing our petition could make a big difference to the funds available to you. The more people who learn about the impact of pensions, and start taking action, the more those who design funds will have to listen.
usually transfer2 – Unless you’re in a Defined Benefit scheme, where the responsibility for retirement income lies with the employer.