Standard Life and Zurich have published their latest independent governance committee (IGC) reports – posting overall green and amber value-for-money assessments respectively.
In his introduction to the annual report for Standard Life's workplace personal pensions, IGC independent chairman David Hare said that, while the IGC believed that Standard Life continued to offer value for money to members, it had some concerns over customer communications and engagement and the application of ESG principles to investment - areas it had ranked as ‘green with a hint of amber' and ‘amber with a hint of green' respectively.
In the report, the IGC said it found that, while statistics of customer satisfaction with communications were strong, there were lower levels of satisfaction from customers that they have the information they need to make decisions on their pension and investments.
It said it was also "disappointed" at a lack of visibility of how ESG considerations impact in-scope members' funds, despite repeated requests from the IGC, but noted this had been countered by the development of group-wide sustainability and responsible Investment initiatives that are starting to address many of its concerns.
Zurich's IGC report noted that, as most of Zurich's modern pensions had moved to Scottish Widows during 2019, it was now largely only focussed on older-style pensions. It noted it had given Zurich an amber rating for value for money, the same as last year.
IGC chairwoman Anna Bradley explained: "It is our opinion that progress has been made this year and Zurich has improved value for money. It also has plans in place to make further improvements. However, progress is slower than we would like. Some improvements currently apply to only a small sub-set of members while Zurich try new things out. In a few cases, we have been disappointed by the length of time it has taken Zurich to respond to some of our challenges. We are looking for a wider and speedier response in the future and have raised this with management."
The long-debated Pension Schemes Bill has received parliamentary approval, guaranteeing its place on the statute book.
Some £20.1bn of defined benefit (DB) pensions were advised to transfer between 2018 and 2020, while £10.2bn were recommended not to transfer, Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) data reveals.
Online provider Pension Bee has created a flexible pension for self-employed savers, allowing them to make contributions according to their income.
Pension trustees will have much more involvement in business discussions and corporates will need to think more about pensions when the watchdog’s increased powers come into force, LCP says.
Mediation has been under-utilised historically as a means of dispute resolution in this area. Mark Blyth and Geoff Egerton think this is going to change.