Benefits Guru Workplace Pensions Rating 2023
Standard Life has achieved a clean sweep of gold awards in this year’s Workplace Pension and Auto-Enrolment ratings, demonstrating the strength of its products and commitment to the market.
The awards, which are powered by the Finance Technology Research Centre, recognise providers that offer the best value and service to employers and employees. Standard Life’s Group Pension propositions were all awarded gold, reflecting their high quality and innovation of service.
Standard Life’s success in the Workplace Pension and Auto-Enrolment ratings is a testament to its commitment to providing high-quality products and services to its customers. The company’s gold awards are a well-deserved recognition of its hard work and dedication.
Congratulations to Standard Life on this impressive achievement!
Member App & Portal:
Member App & portal: Standard Life offer their members a portal and a ‘true’ app which both include all the features and functionality a user would expect form an online service. The app also has full transactional capability which supports most (90%) of the same features and functionality as the online member portal. Both the portal and app include a secure messaging functionality which also allows for documents to be uploaded and shared. Members can also consolidate their pensions online and via the app and charges are clearly displayed in £/p as well as %’s.
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 including in-scheme drawdown, which can facilitate adviser charging. They also provide access to 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 milestone birthdays, starting at age 50 and include an appropriate retirement risk warnings, single page summary and details of different Abrdn retirement options, which complement mandatory retirement communications.
Scheme Setup: Standard Life processes have been designed in a way to enables the adviser or employer to get an instant quote from their system. These quotes are not personalised but are based on the scheme and member information provided. Total minimum contributions of £250 and an Employer Admin Fee is added for the good to go proposition only. Once a quotation is accepted the Application process can take between 1-3 months depending on the requirements of the scheme. Standard Life is responsible for setting up the scheme on their systems and the employer is given access to the Implementation Support Team for any training or support needs.
Restructuring & Transferring Schemes:
Restructuring & Transferring Schemes: Standard Life has a more streamlined process from restructuring as they already have an understanding of the client structure and client data. Members are fully informed in the transfer process of any loss of benefits from the existing scheme. Standard Life will work with Advisers and Employers to create a Direct Offer solution to assist in transferring scheme benefits from previous group pension plans. There is no minimum pension amount and the majority of transfers are completed using the Origo Standard.
Support Services: Standard Life offer very 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.
Member communications: Standard Life provides all the required member communications at no additional cost, this includes their ready-to-go campaigns, which cover nearly all pension messages. Their system will generate auto-enrolment communications. 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). Video statements are personalised and last around 2 minutes, giving the member a visual representation of their pension benefits.
Financial resilience: Standard Life use real member data in order to better understand the financial position (Income, Expenditure and Debt) of their members so that they can better manage their day-to-day financial lives. To support this, they also offer a range of savings vehicles to their members (ISA/GIA/Cash acc) and can also create a financial fitness/wellness score based on a range of information. Standard Life provide a very good level of generic and personalised financial education to their members. They also provide information on wills and help setting one up. They have a very strong process in place in order to help identify vulnerable customers and have a dedicated team to ensure fair treatment to all.
Consumer Duty: Standard Life has been strong with Communication and Customer Support, with the ability to be able to speak to a trained professional. Standard Life has a group-wide set of principles and standards regarding how vulnerability should be approached that are used across functions including non-customer facing which enables consistency. Their Fair Value Assessments have been completed and will continue to be monitored on an annual basis.
Investment & Fund Options:
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 Sustainable Multi Asset Universal SPL, 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.
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 Iris). 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.
Our annual ratings are designed to assist advisers, providers and employers in their decision-making process and highlight which providers have the greatest strengths in different areas of their pension propositions.
To view the full medals tables, all the awards and the accompanying provider factsheets please visit www.benefitsguru.co.uk/ratings/