Client Stories

English National Ballet - Flexibility and salary exchange


English National Ballet is one of the world’s great ballet companies. The original 1950s vision for the company – to take classical ballet of the highest quality to the widest geographical audience, at a price everyone can afford – remains the cornerstone of the company’s philosophy today. As a flagship company for the nation, they employ the best of British and international talent.

What Creative Benefits did

On being appointed as Scheme Advisers in the Autumn of 2008, Creative Benefit Solutions (Creative) carried out a comprehensive review of English National Ballet’s Group Personal Pension arrangements. As a result, a new pension provider was introduced who had a more flexible approach to the diverse earning patterns of the Ballet’s employees.

Further improvements introduced by Creative included much lower annual management charges than previously levied, together with the introduction of Salary Exchange, a legitimate Inland Revenue approved scheme which helps to boost individual members pension savings by up to approximately 30% – at no extra cost!

What this meant for English National Ballet

Kath Lyddon, their Payroll Officer, said, “For me, one of the best benefits of the change is the far greater flexibility our new pension provider offers where employees have fluctuating earnings. This means that I don’t have to manually adjust payments with all the potential problems this can engender and I must thank Creative Benefits for helping me solve this thorny problem.”

How Creative rolled the solution out

To ensure that everybody was in a position to understand, appreciate and take advantage of the changes they had introduced, Creative carried out a full communication exercise for the employees of English National Ballet. This consisted of detailed group presentations followed by individual consultations, which included individual member investment profiling.

Philip Maddock, Head of Human Resources at English National Ballet, commented, “With pensions and investments being such a minefield, it has been a great comfort for many of our employees to have professional and definitive investment advice available from Creative, both at inception and on an ongoing basis, through the well-publicised opportunity of regular reviews.”

Starkey Hearing Technologies - Bringing Holistic Employee Benefits to Life


As a world leader in hearing innovation, Starkey has helped millions of patients experience more with never-before-seen hearing aid technologies. Starkey employs 200 employees in the UK.

What were the issues?

Prior to appointing Creative Benefit Solutions (Creative), the benefits package offered to staff didn’t match the company’s leading edge ambitions.

Lindsay Fulcher, HR and Payroll Manager, comments:

“Despite generous employer contributions, a well known pension provider and an incumbent adviser, there was low take up and low appreciation of the scheme. Added to which our scheme offered little in the way of additional benefits, the pension was not compliant with age discrimination rules, had limited fund choices and charged those with smaller funds proportionately more than those with larger funds. On top of which, our adviser didn’t keep us up-to-date”. Hearing this loud and clear, Creative entered a review process with Starkey, competing with the existing adviser to re-energise the benefits package.

The key objectives were to:

  • ensure the benefits package was well designed (and of course compliant);
  • increase take up and perception;
  • introduce ongoing governance;
  • improve the charges and fund choices of the pension plan.

What the review process highlighted

Starkey ran a review process with both their incumbent adviser and Creative in late 2011 which led to Creative being selected due to a number of factors, including:

  • expertise on salary exchange to improve the tax efficiency of the benefits
  • regulated advisers for employees to receive individual financial advice
  • commitment to corporate benefits and good governance
  • the provision of valuable additional benefits at no cost to Starkey
  • expertise on risk benefits enabling a stage 2 review

What Creative implemented

An old Legal and General Stakeholder pension scheme was replaced by a new Scottish Widows Group Personal Pension with lower charges and a wider fund choice. At the same time, Creative introduced a range of communications and complementary benefits for Starkey’s employees, including a 24/7 Employee Assistance Programme. Staff presentations and one-to-one advice consultations were run in early 2012 to launch the new arrangement to employees.

What were the results?

Take-up of the pension scheme shot up from just 83 employees (41%) to 140 (70%). Lindsay Fulcher, again, states: “Creative Benefits were exceptional in delivering everything from the initial recommendations and scheme design to the employee meetings; everything was presented in an extremely positive and professional way. The increase in take up was brilliant and our management team and staff have been impressed in equal measure.”

What Starkey thought

Starkey went on in mid-2012 to appoint Creative Benefits to also review the Group Life cover. Creative Benefits’ Risk specialist secured a saving of £4,000 per annum by re-broking the scheme. A final word from Lindsay Fulcher:“Creative Benefits has met all the objectives we set and more besides. I have been highly impressed by all the staff; they truly believe that Creative Benefits can do it better and they have shown they can!!”

Toyota - A full communications strategy


Toyota Tsusho UK is a subsidiary of the Toyota Tsusho Corporation, the sixth largest trading company in the world with 26,000 employees and over thirty offices and 180 subsidiaries around the world. Toyota Tsusho UK Ltd was formed when two existing UK  branches of Toyota Tsusho Corporation based in London and Derby were combined in order to support existing customers and to provide manufacturing and supply chain support to the UK Toyota Motors manufacturing plants.

What the issues were

In 2009, Toyota Tsusho (TT UK) reviewed their pension scheme because they felt a more comprehensive and relevant package of benefits was needed for their employees. They consulted with many advisers and finally made the decision to appoint Creative Benefit Solutions (Creative), primarily because they found them to be the most cost effective, helpful and professional. They were also impressed with Creative’s focus on helping the employees. Once the decision had been made and the details of the benefits had been agreed between TT UK and Creative, it was vital that the communication process to inform the staff of the changes and the reasons why the changes were being made, was carried out swiftly, clearly and effectively. Richard Hughes, HR manager at TT UK, said, “Pensions can be a very emotive subject and it was important that our members were fully informed as to why the changes were needed and, more importantly, would agree to the changes being proposed.”

The next steps

Creative immediately set up and carried out a series of group presentations to TT UK staff, followed by individual one to one discussions with employees. Using a combination of printed material and easy to follow technology platforms, Creative were able to explain clearly the overall features of the new plan, together with what these features meant specifically to the employees with whom they met. TT UK were impressed not only with the smooth transition from the old plan to the new but also with Creative’s ongoing communication programme. This includes regular meetings with them, as the employer, to keep them abreast of any legislative or market changes, and also regular consultations with all the members to ensure their personal situations are reviewed and their individual needs catered for, if and when they change.

What the client feels  

“Creative’s regular consultations with our members has created a feeling of trust,” said Richard Hughes, “and can only be described as a win, win situation for all concerned.”


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