Every year, Financial Adviser runs its Service Awards to celebrate the best service in financial services. This is the 26th year they have been held, and they have become a by-word for excellence.
Such is the importance attached to the Service Awards, and the kudos from achieving a five star ranking, that many providers will go to extraordinary lengths to improve their service.
Just as important is the significance of providing good service itself. If a provider gets a good reputation among financial advisers, they will come back with repeat business. Much of financial business is intermediated – and many of these products are intended as a long-term project.
A person may buy a pension policy and not expect to access it until 30 years later. If in the interim they need to transfer it, or they need to switch their investments to a new platform, and the provider makes that a challenge, that creates extra hours of work for the financial adviser and potentially a higher bill for the client.
In this post-RDR world, advisers can no longer use high commissions from wealthy clients to cross-subsidise the less affluent, so a fast, efficient service has become more important.
Every year, over the summer, Financial Adviser promotes its voting round for its Service Awards, allowing online and paper submissions.
Advisers have a vast number of providers to choose from, having used them over the past 12 months. For each provider on which they had knowledge, advisers were asked to rate them out of 10 on several of criteria.
For life and pensions, and investments, advisers were asked to rate the companies on: new business, product support, personal contact, central processing, flexibility of charging and electronic business.
For mortgage lenders and packagers, advisers were asked to judge companies on: speed of processing, feedback, personal contact, reliability, flexible criteria and electronic business.
The results were collected by research firm Coredata and analysed. The companies were ranked based on the results achieved from the voting, and then each company was graded into one of the star categories, according to their rank.
Those judged to have made the most improvement over the year, or past few years, were awarded a special prize in the most improved category, while companies who achieved consistently good results over the years, or who have done exceptionally well this year, were awarded their own prize.
The results were announced last week at a glittering event at the Natural History Museum in London.
Melanie Tringham is features editor of Financial Adviser