Although this will initially only be available to US employees, the partnership between Microsoft and BlackRock could provide a seismic shift to the workplace pensions market across the globe.
This joint initiative aims to provide AI-driven products to help people develop make better decisions about saving, investing and then spending their assets in retirement. It also aims to use technology to boost engagement levels, and get people into better saving habits.
In a statement Microsoft says: “Technology is already revolutionising entire industries and the way people interact with everything from health care to education and transportation. And yet, retirement solutions of today have been slow to keep pace.
“Taking advantage of Microsoft’s cutting-edge technologies and BlackRock’s investment products, the companies aim to make it easier for people to save for retirement and achieve the lifetime income they need through their employers’ workplace savings plan.”
Microsoft’s chief executive Satya Nadella says: “Millions of Americans are struggling to achieve their financial goals for retirement. Together with BlackRock we will apply the power of the cloud and AI to introduce new solutions that address this important challenge and reimagine retirement planning.”
BlackRock chairman and chief executive Laurence D Fink adds: “Retirement systems worldwide are under stress, and providing financial security to retirees has become one of the most defining societal challenges of our time.”
UK pension experts says this development clearly has “huge implications” for the workplace pension market over here.
F&TRC director Ian McKenna point out that this follows a similar agreement earlier this year between investment firm Berkshire Hathaway and Amazon to collaborate on employee healthcare.
McKenna says: “This shows a clear trend towards major technology companies working with the largest investment firms. This has huge potential to disturb the established market.”
He adds: “The UK is frequently seen as the natural second market for services launched in America because of the consistency of language and culture.
“It’s now essential for workplace advice firms to identify how they will evolve their operations to remain competitive given the potential of these major brands.
“The UK industry may have a short period of time to prepare for this new competition but firms need to be putting comprehensive digital proposition is at the heart of everything they do.”