How providers are adapting their policies for Covid-19

A spokesperson for the Aviva platform says: “On the adviser platform, we have been able to accept electronic signatures for some time.

“Wet signatures can be scanned and uploaded to the platform, and we can proceed on this basis without having to physically receive the declaration.” 

A positive experience

Alan Chan, an adviser at IFS Wealth and Pensions in London, says he has found it to be a positive experience.

He says: “Experience has generally been good as the main providers are adapting to new ways of working and accepting scanned applications, letter of authorities and so on.

“However, some providers still insist on wet signatures for certain parts of their process. For instance, although Transact will now accept scanned applications for existing clients, they will still require wet signatures for new clients.

“Also, pension schemes where trustees are involved have always been a bit of a pain to deal with in normal times and even more so in this current climate as they often require wet signatures and will not compromise. 

“Luckily, for all current cases we’ve sent all the required signed documents well before offices were closed, so they’ve already been accepted and scanned onto their systems.”

Transact has its own system for new clients.

A spokesman for Transact says: “For new clients we will establish portfolios based on a scanned copy of the signed form being submitted to us online – we will accept deposits and open new wrappers immediately.

“We do ask for the original hard copy to be sent to us before we allow any withdrawals.

“However, we are introducing some new functionality this month after which we will no longer require the original to be posted to us. We are also considering accepting e-signatures”.

Mr Chan adds that the problem can be as basic as the vagaries of the postal system. 

He says: “In one case I’m currently dealing with right now, the delays we experienced were the other way round. 

“We are trying to transfer away and secure an annuity for the client and they have got all the forms from us, but the delays are coming from the scheme administrator and trustees because they needed all their trustees to sign various parts of the transfer forms with wet signatures. 

“The issue of course is that they are all working from home in different locations, and so after one trustee signed it, they then needed to post it onto the next one and finally back to the scheme admin.”

Pension provider Scottish Widows had removed the requirement for wet signatures as part of its process for buying an annuity, and has recently extended this to other products.