Even the best of products from a workplace pension provider can fail to deliver should the provider’s service not be up to parr. In our latest insight, we look at what service standards providers adhere to and what they publish to advisers, employers, trustees and scheme members.
Service standards are broadly accepted to be important for customers, prospects, employees and the management of any business, including workplace pension providers. In the age where the customer is king, companies must set parameters of what quality service looks like or risk ignoring the peril of failing to meet customer expectations.
When it comes to workplace pensions, service standards help to define what an employer, scheme members and advisers (or Trustees) can expect. They also serve to remind workplace pension providers of the challenges and obligations that they face.
Our data shows that most workplace pension providers are open when it comes to their service standards. Hargreaves Lansdown and Royal London are the only two providers who do not provide or externally publish service standards.
Good customer service standards will set-out expected timelines for all key areas of interaction. For the purposes of the workplace pension provider service standards examined in this article we have focused on individual illustrations, scheme establishment/setup, transfers from existing pension arrangements, leaver settlements, death claims, and retirement packs (including those for early retirement.)
When it comes to individual illustrations and scheme establishment/setup, other than Hargreaves Lansdown and Royal London, all workplace pension providers provide service standards. Aegon Master Trust and Legal & General (GPP and Master Trust) also publish these standards.
For transfers from existing pension arrangements, leaver settlements, death claims, retirement packs (including quote and application) and earlier retirement packs, other than Hargreaves Lansdown and Royal London, all workplace pension providers provide service standards. Legal & General are the only provider to also publish these standards.
Although Hargreaves Lansdown and Royal London do no provide or publish service standards externally, they (along with all the other providers) do have internal service standards which are adhered to in order to ensure a suitable level of service is maintained for their customers.
One way by which companies keep track of how their service standards are performing is via service-level agreements.
A service-level agreement (SLA) is a contract between the provider and its employer client. It details the obligations of both the provider and the client and reduces the potential for disagreements and problems that might negatively affect the relationship between providers, employers, advisers and scheme members.
Companies which want to appear open and confident in their customer services abilities will often publish how they are performing with their SLAs with clients by publishing their anonymised SLA results.
Our data shows that, other than Hargreaves Lansdown and Royal London, all workplace pension providers publish SLA results. I.e. they publish details of how often their targets for turnaround times are met. The information published includes details of the percentage of cases where targets have not been met.
Legal & General (GPP and Master Trust) and True Potential publish SLA results to advisers, employers, trustees, and scheme members in the widest range of mediums. They publish them online, in literature and on a request basis.
Aviva My Master trust and Mercer offer SLA results on a request basis and in literature to advisers, employers, trustees, and scheme members.
Aegon Master Trust, Aegon Workplace ARC, Aviva Designer and Aviva My Money publish these SLA results on a request basis to advisers, employers, trustees, and scheme members.
Other providers have a slightly more sporadic approach to publishing their SLA results.
Fidelity publishes their SLA results in literature but only to advisers and employers/trustees.
Scottish Widows, Scottish Widows GSIPP and Scottish Widows Master Trust publish their SLA results on request and in literature but only to advisers and employers/trustees. They do not publish any SLA results to scheme members.
Scottish Widows also publish their SLA results via request and in literature to advisers and employers/trustees. However, they also make this information available to members on a request basis.
Overall, our data shows that service standards are widely published within the workplace pension market. However, whilst Hargreaves Lansdown and Royal London do have internal service standards which they adhere to, they do not provide or publish any service standards or external assessments.
Legal & General are the most open when it comes to their service standards. They provide and publish standards on all key areas and publish SLA results across the widest range of mediums to advisers, employers, trustees and scheme members.