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Juggling proposition enhancements and children whilst working from home

Craig Monahan | June 18, 2020

Time to read: 4 minutes

Craig Monahan,

Juggling proposition enhancements and children: navigating the choppy seas of working from home

I recently heard the current work situation during COVID-19 being described as “we’re facing the same storm but in different boats.” Well my boat has two girl shaped holes in it, and most days it feels like a never-ending battle to scoop water out just to stay afloat. Or in more practical terms; pick food and Duplo off the floor.

Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t lost perspective. I’m lucky that I can work from home and that my family is safe – there are others who are on the front line dealing with this pandemic and I’m incredibly grateful to them for that. But the reality of juggling childcare with everyday working is hard. Let me bring this to life for you.

Any ideas of an idyllic family life were shattered on day 3 of lockdown, when during dinner Aurora (4) had the audacity to steal a spoonful of Leona’s (2) food. This did not go down well. Leona may be smaller but she is a fierce little lady. She calmly stood up, walked around the dinner table and stabbed her blunted fork into Aurora’s knee whilst shouting “No Aurora, my dinner!” My wife and I looked on aghast, Aurora cried out in shock and pain but Leona calmly walked back to her seat and ate the rest of her dinner. We all learned something that evening. Now we eat most meals with a spoon.

On day 17 of lockdown I was on a video call discussing our future product strategy with a number of colleagues when my wife sent me a text to say “Come downstairs, NOW!” Apprehensively I made my apologies and disappeared downstairs. It turned out that Leona decided she was ready for potty training, without letting us know first. I think it’s best if I end that story there.

On day 56 of lockdown I built a pirate themed climbing frame for the girls. I say ‘built’ in the loosest sense of the word. A more accurate description would be that I made teas and coffees and held things whilst my father in law did a lot of the ‘traditional building’. This pirate ship was the setting for my final embarrassing moment of lockdown (so far), as I attempted to juggle childcare with a client call which resulted in the unforgettable phrase “Excellent, thanks for the update Craig, those developments sound great- sorry is that a pink jolly roger flag above your head?”

Fortunately I work with some very talented and hardworking colleagues who have adjusted to the new norm and found creative ways of working together. This has allowed us to progress two key proposition enhancements which will launch in the coming months: In-Scheme Drawdown and Client Analytics.

In-scheme drawdown

I’ve had the pleasure of working with this project team since this was initially kicked off, and it’s hugely satisfying to see this develop from an initial concept on a whiteboard through to system build with supporting online and telephone journeys. We have overcome significant challenges and continued to have over 100 people connected and working together on building, testing and getting ready for implementation.

At its core, our in-scheme drawdown is based around simplicity and accessibility, making it easy for members to access their retirement savings. We’ve developed a full flexi-access drawdown solution that will maintain the same scheme negotiated discount and allow the benefits to be accessed within the plan. Our initial launch is for the defined contribution master trust, but the project team is already looking at how we can make this available for group flexible retirement plans.

Client analytics

As a society we have an ever-increasing demand for data to achieve our daily objectives, whether that’s how many steps we’ve taken, calories in our meals or knowing exactly how many nappies are left (this might only apply to me). Client analytics applies the same logic but to pensions. This is the first joint development we have undertaken with TCS as part of our new partnership and will be made available across all product types and be released on a phased basis.

The application itself is a simple-to-use dashboard that provides clients with self-serve, data driven insights to help better understand the profile and needs of their defined contributions pensions membership base and inform decision making. This will allow clients to quickly segment their members using dynamic filters across a range of metrics, enabling them to cut through the vast amount of data that is held within pension schemes to hone in on specific behaviours and trends across different cohorts of members.

Advancing both of these developments while in lockdown has been a fantastic achievement and is testament to the commitment and dedication of the respective project teams involved. Both developments will be expanded and developed upon in the coming months and years.

Hopefully it won’t be too long until lockdown is over and we are back outside and I’ll reminisce with rose tinted glasses on how I cherished the time spent working from home and the joys of having the ‘wee ones’ running about but until then I’m locking the cutlery drawer!

The views expressed in this blog should not be regarded as financial advice.

It’s important to remember that a pension is a long-term investment and as such its value can go down as well as up. It could even be worth less than was paid in. Past performance is not a guide to future results.

Craig Monahan

Workplace Proposition Lead

Craig has worked at Standard Life since 2013, with experience in a number of roles across Proposition before his current appointment as Workplace Proposition Lead. In his current role, he and his team are responsible for defining, deliveri […]

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Craig Monahan

Workplace Proposition Lead

Craig has worked at Standard Life since 2013, with experience in a number of roles across Proposition before his current appointment as Workplace Proposition Lead. In his current role, he and his team are responsible for defining, deliveri […]

Read Craig's blogs
Craig Monahan,

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