Most improved companies
L&P: Scottish Widows
Scottish Widows' resurgence into the top ranking group after two consecutive years in the one-star Very Poor Service category is a deserved accolade.
The provider’s performance in its last eight outings in the Service Awards was a mixed bag. Prior to its two-year stint in the bottom category, Scottish Widows earned five stars three times, earned two four-star awards and appeared once in the three-star categories.
According to Ronnie Taylor, distribution director at Scottish Widows, the company adopted a three-pronged approach to better service intermediaries in the past 12 months. It also enhanced its operations service by subjecting their adviser-facing workforce to further product education, which put them in a better position to handle customer queries.
Mr Taylor added that the provider also increased colleague numbers in its core pension teams to manage demand more effectively while enhancing “technical responses in an ever changing regulatory landscape”.
The accolade also acknowledges a similar transformation in adviser service in Scottish Widows' investment division. The company gained four stars after ranking in the one-star category last year.
Iain McGowan, head of fund development and analysis at the provider, said: "Scottish Widows made major steps in the development of its investment proposition in 2016. We used our in-house research in the selection of new funds and managers to reshape our fund range, while demonstrating strong governance through a programme of fund closures. We strengthened our asset allocation team and used that capability in the launch of our Premier Pension portfolios."
Investments: Legal & General Investment Management
Legal & General Investment Management bettered its 2015 rating to the power of two to secure the most improved company accolade in the investment category.
The investment company recovered from a disappointing two-star poor service rating and now ranks among the list of four-star winners.
The fund house’s performance in the past five instalments of the survey was unexceptional. It was rooted to the three-star category from 2012 to 2014 before losing a star in 2015.
Greater scrutiny of the Service Awards archives reveals a regression in performance for LGIM after being listed in the five-star category in 2009. Its last four-star rating came in 2011.
Simon Hynes, head of UK retail distribution, said: “LGIM invested a significant amount of time and financial investment to ensure the administrative side of [the] buy-and-sell side is a best-in-class client journey.
“We also aim for it to be far less burdensome [by] prioritising automated transaction processing and reporting.
“The closely aligned working practices of our product, distribution and operational areas enabled a much greater service delivery – not just on the initial buy side, but throughout the investment lifecycle.”
Business highlights for the company in the past year include the launch of two tracker funds investing in property and emerging market sovereigns, respectively. The products are available through all major intermediary platforms.