Augmentum enters the workplace savings space with investments in Cushon and Epsor

Augmentum Fintech
8 min readJun 2, 2021


By Ellen Logan, Investor at Augmentum Fintech

We are delighted to announce our two latest investments, in Cushon and Epsor. Read on to learn about our pensions thesis and specific investment rationale for these two companies innovating in the workplace savings sector across the UK and France respectively.

Europe’s Pension Problem

Read an article about pensions in the media, and chances are it will cover one or more of the major macro challenges facing the industry and savers today. Whether that be the total savings gap, the equally alarming gender savings gap, the negative impact of covid on the value of pension pots and/or the present (and expected future) prevalence of pension poverty, it’s not often good news. Unfortunately, this narrative is very well founded in facts. European societies are facing challenges on a huge scale, that will require reform and innovation to abate.

Source: World Economic Forum
Source: World Economic Forum

If saving too little for retirement is the outcome we hear about in the press, then the historic limitations of government policies and the prevailing lack of engagement with savings reveal the cause. And — thanks to the power of compound interest — the earlier action can be taken, the better for all. Government led pensions reforms in recent years have made progress with a top down approach and we now believe the stage is set for innovative companies — who connect with savers on an individual level to boost engagement and understanding — have an important, complementary role to play in tackling the challenge from the bottom up.

Top down progress:

In terms of Government reforms and incentives, two major initiatives worth mentioning by name, given their relevance to the companies we are introducing today, are the UK’s Auto Enrollment scheme, introduced in 2012, and the workplace savings related clauses included within the 2019 French PACTE Law which form the basis for new employee and retirement savings plans (“PER”) in France.

Auto Enrollment is widely recognised as a success, although there remain groups in society which the scheme does not reach, such as the self-employed. 85% of private sector workers now have a pension vs less than 50% in 2012. Commentators are hopeful that a similar impact will be seen in France, with PACTE incentives designed to greatly increase the number of SMEs who are in a position to offer their employees workplace retirement and employee savings plans.

Bottom up potential:

On the other side of the equation, the opportunity to engage individuals and boost savings with a bottom up approach remains nascent. A small number of players are driving forward innovation in the space, but the majority of established workplace savings providers operate products which have changed very little in the last 10–15 years.

Workplace pensions schemes remain the primary channel for private pension accumulation, whereby employers select a pension provider who will run and manage a pension scheme on behalf of their employees. There is little doubt that this intermediation has been one of the contributing factors to slow innovation in end user experience in the industry. Pension providers have built products which meet the needs of employers in order to win their schemes, but leave employees — the ultimate user of the product — with infrequent communication and outdated digital portals. The result; a serious lack of engagement at the individual level, and low savings rates.

However, we see a shift underway, as issues such as employee engagement levels and climate impact have risen higher up the workplace savings agenda as part of a broader conversation about the role of employers in supporting the financial wellbeing of their employees. It also remains the case that a workplace pension tends to be the most expensive employee benefit an employer will deliver, and yet with engagement levels low it is often not recognised as such. We see this as a missed opportunity for employers to establish loyalty and goodwill across their employee base.

Saddled with legacy tech, and cultures of low-innovation, traditional workplace savings providers have limited ability to update their offerings to meet new demands, opening the door of opportunity to a new generation of players.

Augmentum’s Thesis

Our thesis is that innovators in the space will prove to be powerful forces in reframing the conversation around workplace savings, driving up engagement at the individual level and pushing forward the industry conversation on ESG. As a team we have been thinking and learning about this opportunity for a number of years, meeting with many companies approaching the challenge from different angles. In parallel, in other fintech verticals such as digital banking and self directed investment platforms, we have seen the power of fintechs to radically improve user experiences. We think the time is now for workplace pensions and savings to undergo this transformation, and we have found two exceptional companies who have a real opportunity to become scale players in their respective markets.

We are delighted to announce our investments into Cushon’s Series A and Epsor’s Series B who are innovating in the UK and French workplace savings markets respectively.


Cushon was co-founded by former Tillinghast actuary Ben Pollard and serial HR tech entrepreneur Phil Hollingdale, with the mission of radically improving the user experience of workplace savings products. Today, Cushon’s offering includes integrated pensions and payroll-linked ISAs seamlessly delivered through the Cushon app and desktop portal.

Cushon’s entry to the pensions space came in April 2020 through the acquisition of the Salvus Master Trust. Their latest fundraise, announced this morning, has enabled the acquisition of Construction First Limited, scheme funder of the Workers Pension Trust (WPT) scheme. This brings Cushon’s overall assets under management to £740m and total number of members to over 200,000, and also makes Cushon the sixth largest master trust by number of employers managed. With industry dynamics in the master trust space geared towards further consolidation, we see an opportunity for Cushon to grow into a serious player in the space in the years to come.

In January 2021 Cushon announced the launch of the world’s first ‘Net Zero Now’ pension product. While other providers talk of future targets and incremental improvements, Cushon have demonstrated total commitment to sustainability objectives. Net Zero is achieved through a unique mix of fund allocation and carbon offsetting through fully verified projects around the world, achieving positive impact without compromising returns. In another industry first, Cushon have also launched in-app ESG voting features which allow savers to vote on governance issues from companies within their saving portfolios.

We are delighted to be leading Cushon’s Series A funding round and look forward to supporting the business as they enter their next phase of growth.


Epsor’s ambition is to simplify and democratise all procedures relating to workplace savings plans (retirement plans and share bonus schemes). France is the first market the company is operating in, with the market primed for disruption due to new incentives from the French government in a bid to increase saving rates in the country.

Former colleagues at Société Générale, Julien Niquet (former MD of Inspection) and Benjamin Pedrini (former Head of Compliance in Private Banking), started Epsor in 2017, having identified the opportunity of bringing a modern, tech-led proposition to the market to harness the tailwinds from the government’s reforms. Today, the company serves more than 40,000 savers from over 400 companies in France, delivering access to an open ecosystem of asset management products through Epsor’s digital platform. Epsor has also built the largest ISR (Investissement Socialement Responsable or socially responsible investing) product offering for workplace savings in France with 14 ISR labelled funds available to savers on their platform.

We are delighted to be working with Julien, Benjamin and their exceptional team, and to be investing alongside leading French VCs Gaia Capital, Blackfin and Partech in the company’s Series B round, which marks Augmentum’s first investment in France.

Learn more about the Augmentum portfolio at

Learn about investing in fintech with Augmentum (LSE:AUGM) at

Important Information
This financial promotion is issued by Augmentum Fintech Management Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under Firm Reference Number: 811734. Augmentum Fintech Management Limited is appointed as manager to Augmentum Fintech plc. This financial promotion is for information purposes only and nothing contained in this financial promotion constitutes investment advice. This financial promotion is intended for professional investors and for retail investors who have sufficient knowledge and experience of UK listed investment trust companies. If you as a retail investor are uncertain whether an investment is suitable for you, you should seek advice from a regulated financial adviser. The value of investments, and any income from them, can fall as well as rise and you may not get back the amount invested. Reference to “Augmentum” or “Augmentum Fintech” refers to “Augmentum Fintech Management Limited” unless otherwise stated. Reference to the “Company” refers to Augmentum Fintech plc. Reference to “we”, “our” and “The Augmentum Team” refers to employees, consultants or advisors of/to “Augmentum Fintech Management Limited”.



Augmentum Fintech

Augmentum Fintech is Europe’s leading publicly listed fintech fund.