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Adviser disappointed over Pru’s nine-week annuities delay

Adviser disappointed over Pru’s nine-week annuities delay

A chartered financial planner at Leicester-based Rowley Turton has told FTAdviser he is disappointed by a delay in annuity processing, which has taken nine weeks so far, following the passing of his late father-in-law.

In a note which Prudential sent Scott Gallacher on 18 February 2021, the provider told him the processing time could take up to 50 days.

Gallacher said it was “shocking” and “terrible” to have to wait so long because it “drags out the process”.

He told FTAdviser: “In terms of registering it with the Prudential they have an online system. It then disappears into a black hole for potentially 50 days."

In theory the family should be receiving information regarding the delays at the beginning of May at the latest.

This is not the first time Prudential delays have caused adviser vexation, with the Pensions Ombudsman stepping in last time.

In December 2020, Prudential was made to pay back a £5,000 adviser fee to a client after it caused a delay to his pension transfer.

The Pensions Ombudsman ordered Prudential to pay the adviser fee alongside three months’ simple interest on a £100,000 tax-free cash lump sum which was not taken after the pension transfer failed to complete in a timely manner.

The issue started in September 2018 when the client’s adviser applied for a defined benefit transfer and sent Prudential the required paperwork.

Gallacher added it was his view that providers were putting money into assets rather than in the benefits of clients.

“Money goes into new business and new policies where they get paid. Everything else is perceived as a cost,” he explained.

Gallacher also mentioned he was sure the provider would “blame Covid” but it was “worrying” that they had not managed to sort this out after so long.

A spokesperson for Prudential told FTAdviser: “We’re experiencing a significant increase in number of bereavement cases we’re dealing with as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“We appreciate that this is a difficult time for families and are working to process cases as fast as possible, advising that, at present, it could take up to 50 working days.”

Prudential toldFTAdviserthey would be processing these annuities very shortly following the request for comment.

In May last year, advisers said they were battling a declining level of service from providers, which leaves them scrambling for answers from “faceless” companies, often resulting in frustrated clients and lengthy delays.

Their gripes included blunders that leave the adviser looking incompetent or as if they are “passing the buck” in front of the clients, and call centre staff with insufficient knowledge to deal with problems effectively.

Advisers pinned the blame on a falling number of “reps” who can develop a relationship with them. While advisers attributed this to cost cutting, providers said this was due to the rising use of technology.

Ruth Gillbe is a freelance reporter for FTAdviser