Service Awards 2016: Company of the Year: Royal London

Service Awards 2016: Company of the Year: Royal London

Royal London has secured a second Company of the Year crown in just three years.

The group was previously judged to be the best of the best when it comes to adviser services by our readers in the 2014 Financial Adviser Service Awards.

Royal London’s fine run in the annual awards continues. The business has appeared in the five-star life and pensionsservice category for eight consecutive years since 2009.

Meanwhile, Royal London Asset Management secured a spot in the top band in four of its five appearances in the awards for investments. Its sole outing outside the five-star category came in 2013. Even then, it recorded a very respectable four-star rating.

Both divisions occupy the top spot of their respective categories in 2016.

The group’s pension and protection businesses are now recorded as separate entities in the survey after Scottish Provident became the latest of the life assurer’s acquisitions to shed its branding.

The move brought its UK intermediary protection businesses under the Royal London name in the first quarter of 2016.

Isobel Langton, chief executive, intermediary, at Royal London, said the new-look protection brand combines the best features of Scottish Provident as well as previously amalgamated brands, Bright Grey and Scottish Life.

She said: “In the past, the online protection application process was quite lengthy but we implemented measures to make the journey more streamlined. For example, an underwriter would look to ask further questions about the health of a customer.

“We created a system whereby advisers are able to ‘hand-off’ their customer to an underwriter electronically without having to arrange another appointment to get answers to these questions.”

One of the standout highlights for Royal London’s pension business is the launch of a drawdown governance service to help intermediaries better manage the portfolios of clients in Royal London’s Income Release drawdown plan.

The future for Royal London’s adviser services looks certain.

Ms Langton said: “More of the same in a lot of ways. We think that there is a place for robo-advice but only to support advisers. The average man-on-the-street still wants to have face-to-face interaction.”

Ms Langton said the tool provides an overview of clients’ investments and flags when things are going off course.

The company educates advisers on the more pertinent considerations in the new retirement status quo post pension freedoms by hosting nationwide roadshows and seminars.

She said many of these events feature keynote speeches from prominent industry figures, including Royal London’s director of policy Steve Webb, who famously oversaw the implementation of the pension freedoms during his tenure as pensions minister.

The asset management business also honed in on the pension market with the launch of a suite of six risk-rated global multi-asset portfolios, offering a blend of active and passive equity with exposure to UK commercial property and commodities.