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Written by:

Fay Knight

Head of Service Operations

Read Time:

6 minutes

Published:

01 / 12 / 2023

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Nurturing a new generation of pensions administrators

Well trained, highly competent pensions administrators are the bedrock of well-run pension schemes.

For pension scheme members, having queries handled in a timely, professional and accurate manner is imperative. If your frontline administration team isn’t up to scratch, it’ll show in your member satisfaction scores.

But good pension administrators are hard to find and, in a post covid world, where hybrid working is becoming more commonplace, it’s getting even harder as the competition for talent has gone from local to countrywide. On top of that, with projects such as pensions dashboards and GMP equalisation affecting all pension schemes, demand for administrators is growing.

To address this growing challenge, in the summer of 2022 Brightwell launched its new Pensions Academy at its administration hub in Chesterfield. 


What is the Brightwell Pensions Academy?

The idea was simple – to recruit people of any age and background, with little or no pensions knowledge, but who had strong potential, a great attitude and a willingness to learn and take them on a year-long structured training programme. At the end of the programme, they would graduate as qualified pensions administrators. The Academy training is a blended learning programme combining classroom learning, hands-on experience, and work-based practical training.

The practical training guides all academy administrators through the core administration processes, including data, bereavements, transfers and retirements.

The training is delivered by qualified administrators, with a full route to competency framework wrapped around to monitor progress to ensure support is provided as required.

The classroom training is delivered face-to-face by a dedicated training team who have the qualifications and experience to provide assurance on technical content. The classroom content interweaves both professional qualification content (through the Award in Pension Essentials and Certificate of Pension Essentials qualification sets) and training material applicable to the relevant pension scheme(s), including scheme rules, benefits, calculations and communications.

All of this is underpinned with soft skills training and regular networking to incorporate the group into the wider business. To support knowledge retention, we have integrated knowledge retention AI software into the wider competency framework to embed learning. This ensures that learning doesn’t stop in the classroom.


Learning and improving

Since launching the Academy we’ve made a number of changes to improve its effectiveness, incorporating used learning styles (how people learn) and the GC index (what drives individual energy) to tailor how training is delivered.

One of the early challenges was setting the difficulty bar of the training to the right level, based on the journey of the individual cohorts.

Following feedback, we have now pushed some of the advanced calculation-based training further back and brought forward some of the specific technical training that will help supplement understanding on desk-based processes (such as transfers, divorce, and bereavement) forward.


Plans for the future

In November, we were proud when the Brightwell Pensions Academy won the Professional Pensions Training Scheme of the Year and the Pensions Management Institute Pinnacle award for Innovation in Learning, Development and Talent Retention.

We’re delighted with the success of the Academy to date and will continue to grow and develop it. We see the Academy programme as only the start of the journey to becoming a skilled administrator. It sets individuals up to integrate well within the operation, gives them the skills to do a good job, and provides an introductory view on the many different elements of the ever-changing pensions industry. We also aim to create a collegiate and supportive environment where trainees can be themselves and hopefully make some good friends along the way.

However, graduating from the Academy is not the end of the journey. The choice on where to go next will be flexible to the specific skill set of the individual administrator, who could choose to progress in administration itself or branch out into other areas within the business. 

Through our active encouragement in career development supported by targeted training programmes for our more experienced administrators we have had individuals progress both within and outside of Pension Administration. Some have progressed within Pension Administration fulfilling Senior Pension Administrator or Operations Manager roles, but we have also had colleagues move to other functions within the business – Quality Assurance, Finance, Payroll, Projects to name a few.

Our ultimate target to is ensure that we continue to deliver first rate service to our members. We feel that a fully tailored Academy programme will enable us to attract and retain the best talent and, in doing so, continue to deliver a quality service and high levels of member satisfaction into the future.

If you are interested in finding out more about how Brightwell can develop innovative solutions for your scheme, please contact us at hello@brightwellpensions.com.


Avatar photo

Written by:

Fay Knight

Head of Service Operations

Read Time:

6 minutes

Published:

01 / 12 / 2023

Share Article:


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