Personal Pension  

Providers see 214% boost in calls since freedom day: ABI

Providers see 214% boost in calls since freedom day: ABI

Pension providers handled over 200,000 calls from customers in the first week following the introduction of the pension reforms, according to figures collated from Association of British Insurers’ members.

Between 7 Tuesday and 10 April, ABI members received 229,932 phone calls from customers interested in finding out more about their pension options under the reforms - a 214 per cent increase in average call volumes that would be expected during the period - equating to an average of 57,483 calls each day.

After a peak, the day after ‘pension freedom day’, call volumes fell, but were still well above the average. ABI members also has over 10,000 written and email requests each day, more than double the benchmark average for all of 2014.

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Last week, FTAdviser revealed that a number of insurers had received around 3,000 calls in one day, with Zurich reporting nearly 10x its normal daily level of enquiries on the first working day of the new freedoms on Tuesday (7 April).

Over at Scottish Widows a similar volume of 3,000 calls on Tuesday represented three times normal volumes, following a quiet start on Bank Holiday Monday when the reforms formally came into force.

Aegon also had close to 3,000 callers on its first day, Tuesday, which was up nearly 42 per cent on levels received on the previous week.

Standard Life also took over 3,000 calls since their phone lines opened on Monday morning, while nearly 1,000 customers ‘settled’ benefits themselves using the firm’s online support facility.

Rob Yuille, ABI’s manager for retirement policy, said that its members have taken steps to meet this demand, and will continue to explain to customers their options, encouraging them to speak to the free Pension Wise service before taking any action.

However, according to research by PricewaterhouseCoopers published last week, only 36 per cent 50-75 year-olds were been contacted by their pension provider prior to the reforms.

The professional services firm surveyed over 1,200 people during March, finding this figure fell to 26 per cent in the low-wealth, small pension pot demographic and was still only 48 per cent in the high-wealth, large-pension category.

Further evidence of provider communication problems came from independent planning tool Retireeasy today (15 April), as a survey of its user base found that 54 per cent have still not received any communication from their provider about the pensions freedoms.