With the Coronavirus pandemic prompting many pension savers to reconsider how they manage their finances; more workplace pension members than ever are looking to use mobile applications to manage their pensions on the go.

In our latest insight we look at the mobile applications on offer from workplace pension providers, who has access to them and what services and functionality is included.

With lockdowns to stop the spread of Coronavirus limited social interaction and closed banking branches, more people turned to managing their finances online. Even as banking branches began to offer in person services again the trend did not significantly reverse with the pandemic seemingly having caused a significant longer term shift in consumer behaviour.

Whilst mobile applications from workplace pension providers are nothing new, the pandemic has accelerated the growth of a digital transformation that was taking place at a slower pace with more services and functionality being added to the mobile applications of many workplace pension providers.

Our data shows that all workplace pension providers, other than Aegon Workplace ARC, now offer a mobile application at no additional cost to members. Aegon are currently developing their app and it is expected to go live next year.

For most this is a native app and the applications are available on a range of devices with all providers offering them to both Apple and Android operating system devices.

According to our data, providers are offering a high percentage of the functionality that is available on Member Portals on their mobile app. However, these percentages have fallen over the last year. Of the providers offering a mobile app, in 2020 60% offered all of the functionality available on their Member Portal whereas now this figure is less than 50%.

Those offering the full functionality are Aviva Designer, Aviva My Money, Aviva My Money Master Trust, Cushon, Fidelity, Fidelity Master Trust, Legal & General, Legal & General Master Trust, Mercer Master Trust Aviva and Mercer Master Trust Scottish Widows.

The providers offering the lowest level of the functionality on their app in comparison to their member portal are Scottish Widows, Scottish Widows GSIPP and Scottish Widows Master Trust who are only offering 40% functionality. The remaining providers offer between 70% and 85% functionality on their app.

One driver for the development of mobile applications for the management of pensions has been Open Banking. Open Banking forced the UK’s largest banks to begin to release their data in a secure, standardised form, so it can be shared more easily between authorised organisations online. As a result, consumers have begun to become used to seeing multiple products, often from multiple providers, through one mobile application.

Our data shows that many workplace pension providers are including other products and services within their workplace pensions mobile application.

Two thirds (64%) of workplace pension provider apps are able to show third party functionality such as specific flexible benefits or reward packages that the employer has in place.

The mobile apps of 17 propositions show details of other products and services they operate that members can have alongside their pension information, this compares to 14 a year ago. Providers who are not able to include these details are Fidelity and Fidelity Master Trust.

Workplace pension provider apps are also including more products and services than they did a year ago. The most common products included on workplace pension providers’ mobile apps are ISA (with 95% of providers offering these via their app in comparison to 85% in 2020), GIA (85% in comparison to three quarters last year), Protection/Insurance (37%), and General Insurance (37%).

Financial, mental and physical wellness services are also now commonly offered with all providers other than Hargreaves Lansdown now offering some form of wellness service via their app.

Legal & General and Legal & General Master Trust offer the broadest range of products and services with ISAs, GIAs, financial wellness, mental wellness, physical wellness, protection/insurance, general insurance, payslips and holiday booking services available via their mobile app.

Over half (58%) of workplace pension providers allow the application to be tailored to include specific content from the employer. These providers are Aegon Master Trust, Aegon Workplace ARC, Aviva Designer, Aviva My Money, Aviva My Money Master Trust, Cushon, Fidelity, Fidelity Master Trust, Legal & General, Legal & General Master Trust, Mercer Master Trust Aviva and Mercer Master Trust Scottish Widows.

The development of multi-factor security systems has vastly increased the security of online financial management and is one of the driving forces behind the increased uptake for mobile financial services applications.

Our data shows that the different provider apps require a range of differing multi-factor authentications for login. Forms of authentication accepted by all provider apps are password, fingerprint and facial recognition.

When it comes to the information displayed within the apps this is fairly uniform at most levels.

All provider apps display the policy number, and current fund value. All provider apps other than for Hargreaves Lansdown, also display the selected retirement age, currently monthly employer contribution amount, current monthly employee contribution amount, and 12 months of contribution history.

The display of investment choices and information is where the picture gets rather cloudier.

When it comes to risk levels, all apps other than those from Hargreaves Lansdown, Mercer Master Trust Scottish Widows, Scottish Widows, Scottish Widows GSIPP and Scottish Widows Master Trust show a risk level for the chosen investment funds.

All apps other than Hargreaves Lansdown show the current plan charges mostly on a percentage basis. However, Cushon, Standard Life and True Potential can show the plan charges as a percentage and monetary amount.

Hargreaves Lansdown and Scottish Widows are the only providers who do not have the relevant fund factsheets for the asset allocation available within the app.