PensionsNov 11 2015

IFA ‘throws toys out of pram’ in Scot Wids PIP bid

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IFA ‘throws toys out of pram’ in Scot Wids PIP bid

Advisers have claimed that Scottish Widows has continued to refuse disclosing clients’ pension input periods, despite advisers having full authority to ask for PIP information.

Sam Caunt, IFA/financial planner at Northamptonshire-based Future Life Financial Planning, said he got nowhere requesting simple information to enable his firm to do a pension share-in case.

He said: “We couldn’t get that simple information even though we kept on going back. We had to put in a formal complaint to speed things up. As soon as it went through this procedure, we got the answer.

“Sometimes you have to throw your toys out of the pram. We understand some providers are under pressure, but when you have a routine enquiry and are promised an answer within 25 days but end up waiting several months, you have to go through the complaints process. It’s taking a sledgehamamer to crack a nut.”

Mr Caunt added: “This all adds to the time, effort and the client’s bill.”

This is not the first time this year that advisers have complained about service levels at Scottish Widows in relation to life and pensions.

In September, FCA data revealed that within the decumulation, life and pensions group, Scottish Widows received 4,110 complaints during the first half of 2015.

In April this year, Philip Perry, a director at Greater Manchester-based Ark Financial Planning, accused Scottish Widows of taking an unacceptably long time to give one of his clients tax-free cash.

Mr Perry said one of his clients who had money spread across five separate pension schemes held with the provider had wanted to merge these into one and go into drawdown in order to access tax-free cash.

He said that after an application was sent in February, Scottish Widows transferred the money on 27 March, but claimed the client had not confirmed receipt of the tax-free cash until 17 April.

At the time, a Scottish Widows spokesman said that, like much of the industry, the provider had seen a rise in the volume of requests for pension consolidations, “which led to some cases where we haven’t been able to process payments as quickly as we would like”.

Right to reply

Kevin Brown, senior media relations manager, insurance, at Lloyds Banking Group, which owns Scottish Widows, said: “We can provide information around contribution dates by phone to help advisers making calculations of PIPs for clients. We are not immediately able to provide details of the PIPs, but can calculate these on request.”