Encouragement for sustainable pension : A better understanding for sustainability in regards to pension savings

University essay from KTH/Skolan för datavetenskap och kommunikation (CSC)

Abstract: Sustainability is more relevant than ever and has forced the pension industry to acknowledge new types of responsibilities during the last decades. Sustainable pension is based on the investing strategy, social responsible investment (SRI), which implies that pension funds should not solely focus on a good return of their investment, but also care for the social and economical welfare. Research has been conducted on the area of SRI and pension during the last decades but a gap has been identified as to how this research was eventually communicated to the customers. This thesis addresses this in two parts for the target group business customers. Firstly, to meet future demands in the pension industry, a better knowledge is needed of how the business customers understand what sustainable pension really is. This thesis aims to address this by answering the question “What are business customers’ understandings of sustainability and pensions?” Secondly, customers increasingly ask what impact their money is having on sustainability. In answer to this demand, a prototype with a concretization of sustainable pension savings was developed and evaluated, following a Human-Centered Design process throughout the thesis project. Interviews were conducted with pension experts and business customers. Results showed that business customers do not make a connection between sustainability and pension, that sustainability is diffuse and hard to understand in the financial setting, and that pension is too far from the operative business and perhaps the employees’ own responsibility. When explained, the belief was that sustainable pension is something positive. But preconceived notions about it being expensive and non-lucrative are factors that discourages. The final evaluation of the prototype was done with a user test that featured three of the four business customers from the interviews. Results pointed to that the business customers think that sustainable pensions became more understandable, that sustainable pension became more concrete, that it was interesting, fresh and that it broke new ground. The user test also revealed that rebound effects is a potential risk with sustainable pension, as participants expressed that they feel better and compensated with their own CO2 emission after they learned about the positive effects of a sustainable pension.

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