Last week we announced our 2021 Workplace Pension and Auto-Enrolment ratings, and yet again it was a double gold win for Royal London.
Today’s insight takes a closer look their awards for the Workplace Pensions ratings, how they scored and some of the strengths of their proposition.
Royal London achieved an overall gold award for their Workplace Pensions proposition, scoring exceptionally well in the At Retirement Options, Auto-Enrolment Functionality and Processes, Investment & Fund Options, IT Resilience and Continuity, Online Member Services, Record Keeping & Governance and Support Services and have very good performance for Communications.
At retirement options:
Royal London has a very strong at retirement process. Wake up packs are issued 1 month before members turn 50, and again every 5 years along with internal and third-party retirement information and guidance. Members can access lifetime annuity, impaired life annuity and flexible drawdown products, which will facilitate adviser charging and UFPLS payments. They are providing tools to advisers to assist with pension freedom changes. The minimum fund value required to designate FAD is £10,000 and the minimum payment allowed as a regular income payment from FAD is £25. Royal London have implemented Investment Pathways as part of their proposition and also now offer a digital retirement advice service following the purchase of Wealth Wizards earlier in the year.
Royal London has a portal for members, which can be customised. Within this is a range of projection and modelling tools. They offer a wide range of worksite literature which can be customised to the employer and can support all the required member communications at no additional cost. Royal London can generate auto-enrolment member communications and can provide electronic benefit statements. The system has the ability to generate management information and regulatory reports. Royal London do not currently support chatbots or video pension statements.
Auto Enrolment process:
Royal London has a fully automated AE process in place to address the needs of all employers. This includes automated systems to address transient workers, the ability to convert existing schemes into qualifying schemes and a range of tools and services to help advisers and employers with scheme assessment and member categorisation. Royal London can also support all payroll frequencies, multiple PAYEs and payrolls. Royal London can provide reports on alternative approaches to achieving AE compliance.
Investment & fund options:
Royal London offers a range of funds on their platform consisting of a mix of own, life-styling, multi-manager, fund of funds, ethical, ESG and guided funds. Fund fact sheets are updated on a monthly basis. Royal London have a number of default investment options available to the member which can be customised by advisers, along with free unlimited online switching. The core default fund used for auto-enrolment is the Balanced Lifestyle Strategy (Drawdown).
IT Resilience and Continuity:
Royal London have very good processes and procedures in place in respect of IT security, provisioning, continuity and resilience. They have all the right processes in place to ensure that in the case of an IT disaster there will be minimum impact on their staff and members. They use a secure method for sending and receiving all emails as well Document Rights Management software.
Online Member Services:
Royal London provide a member portal and native member app, however currently the app is read only and non-transactional, but members can view all policy and investment details. They offer free online switching 24/7 without the need for a client signature and members and adviser can update or amend member details, such as change of address and marital status. Royal London offer a bulk switching process for redirecting future contributions
Royal London offer very good support services to both the adviser and employer. This includes an implementation hub/portal to assist with the implementation process, which will track the set up process and create alerts when actions are required. Dedicated teams are available to support scheme set up, transfers, new joiners and leavers. They offer call centre, web-based and online services. They offer full training to all parties and the system implementation process takes less than 1 month which is monitored by a dedicated implementation manager.
Record keeping & governance:
Royal London has independent members who form part of their governance committee including an independent chairman and, in an industry first, plan holder representation on their Independent Governance Committee. They have an appointed individual who takes responsibility for data accuracy. They consider the views of external advisers when making investment fund decisions and monitor the performance of funds in line with their objectives on a quarterly basis looking in detail at fund performance, volatility, external research, error tracking, fund liquidity and charges.