Over the last 12 months Standard Life have continued to innovate and develop their workplace proposition to make them one of the UK’s leading providers.
For the second year running, Standard Life scored overall GOLD awards in both the Workplace Pension and Auto-Enrolment ratings, for their DC Master Trust and Group Flexible Retirement Plan propositions.
Emma Furlonger, Head of Workplace Distribution and Relationships at Standard Life commented:
“We’re delighted that FTRC has again this year awarded Standard Life four Gold medals for our Group Flexible Retirement Plan and our DC Master Trust. The medals demonstrate the continued strength of our workplace propositions, and reflects that we go above and beyond to help advisers, clients and their scheme members with their workplace pension arrangements.
“We won’t rest on our laurels either. Standard Life, as part of Phoenix Group, is committed to further developing its workplace business by strengthening relationships with advisers and continuing to meet the needs of workplace clients and their scheme members.”
Product offering & administration:
Standard Life Assurance Limited offers a range of products for workplace pensions, personal pensions, savings, investments and retirement.
The workplace administration teams are all based in the UK. Standard Life are part of the Phoenix Group which is the UK’s largest long term savings and retirements business.
At retirement options:
Standard Life offer full at retirement support and provide a lifetime annuity, impaired life annuity, UFPLS payments and access to flexible drawdown products, which can facilitate adviser charging. They also provide online retirement planning tools and have partnered with Hub Financial to provide specialist retirement services.
They have implemented Investment Pathways and can also provide members with access to a digital decumulation retirement advice tool via Abrdn. Wake up packs are issued two months before during 50 and include an appropriate retirement risk warnings, single page summary and details of different retirement options, which complement mandatory retirement communications.
Record keeping & governance:
Standard Life have established an Independent Governance Committee which contains an independent chairman and representatives as well as a staff representative. They assess value for money which includes monitoring 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.
Standard Life also carry out qualitative research on fund managers and will communicate to members and advisers any changes that will impact an investment.
Auto Enrolment process:
Standard Life will provide all relevant member communications, have no restrictions in terms of staff turnover and have automated systems in place to monitor employee earnings and enrol them once they meet the AE contribution threshold.
Their systems will handle multiple payrolls, staging dates and all pay frequencies as well as having CSV integration with a wide range of payroll providers (including Sage and IRESS). In under 1 hour their system is capable of processing over 5,000 employee records. They offer a range of reports and services to assist the employer and adviser with certification, scheme assessment and compliance.
Standard Life will provide all the required member communications at no additional cost. Their system will generate auto-enrolment communications and they offer a range of worksite literature. Communications are provided in accessible formats such as large print and braille if required. GFRP offers Annual Benefit Statements (and Total Reward Statements for Lifelens clients). They have also introduced video statements at scale which are currently available to over 8000 clients.
Standard Life offer a range of financial wellness functionality as part of their proposition which can be accessed through a various devices including mobiles and tablets. They support members with short, medium and long term needs and goals through modelling tools such as Financial Healthcheck. Also includes access to an Employee Assistance Programme that offers support with financial issues, legal issues, child care, elderly care, debt support, relationship advice and retirement planning. This year they have also partnered with a third-party open finance provider to give pension members access to their new Money Mindset platform.
Online Member Services:
Standard Life offer members a true app, supporting easy access through finger print and facial recognition, with transactional capability which has most of the same features and functionality as the online member portal.
Standard Life offer free online switching 24/7 without the need for signature, along with a bulk member switching facility and the ability for all members to update and change their personal details online at anytime. Members can consolidate their pensions online and via the app and charges are clearly displayed in £/p as well as %’s.
Investment & fund options:
Standard Life offer a wide range of funds on their platform consisting of own, multi-manager, ethical and ESG and funds. They have a range of default investment options, the core default fund being the Active Plus III Universal SLP, which can be customised by advisers. This includes the name and asset allocation and customised factsheets. Standard Life monitor their fund volatility, objectives and suitability on a quarterly basis
Resilience and Continuity:
Standard Life have 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, members, clients and their advisers. They use a secure method for sending and receiving all emails as well Document Rights Management software.
Standard Life offer good support services to both the adviser and employer. This includes dedicated teams to support scheme set up, transfers, new joiners and leavers. They offer call centre (working hours only), web-based and online services.
Standard Life offer full training to all parties and the system implementation process takes from 1-6 months, depending on scheme requirements, which is monitored by a dedicated implementation team.
To view the full medals tables, all the awards and the accompanying provider factsheets please visit www.benefitsguru.co.uk/ratings/