Scottish Widows  

Scottish Widows pumps £30m into workplace products

Scottish Widows pumps £30m into workplace products

Scottish Widows will invest £30m in its workplace pensions business to expand the range of products and services available to its workplace customers.

It comes less than a year after the firm invested £50m to improve its products and services, which it called its "Driving Pensions Value" programme.

The provider also announced plans to launch its own master trust in a bid to offer greater choice to employers.

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Scottish Widows said the latest investment would build on the previous one, spending the £30m on widening products available to customers through the workplace, and improving accessibility.

This would include adding blended funds and Isas, as well as the creation of a "single view" drawdown service, which would simplify access to and management of drawdown products.

David Holton, corporate propositions director at Scottish Widows, said the Driving Pensions Value programme was moving "to the next level" after a year of customer consultation. 

He said over the next year, the programme's focus would be on products.

“A broader range of tax wrappers combined with income drawdown is what our customers are asking for - along with the expansion of our investment fund range," he said. 

"In addition we will continue to roll out digital improvements, including smartphone capability to over 1.5 million scheme members to help them better interact with their retirement savings."

Earlier this week Scottish Widows said it had scrapped exit fees all its personal pension products, ahead of strict new rules on the charges due to come in to effect in April.

Ian McKenna, director of fintech consultancy F&TRC, praised Scottish Widows, saying it had "delivered change within nine months that would normally have taken two years using traditional processes".

He said the spending was necesseary, saying, "Deep pockets are needed to deliver the best solutions."

However, Rob McMurrich, head of investment and pensions at Roxburgh Financial Management, questioned Scottish Widows' focus on increasing the number of funds.

"I have no interest in the number of funds on offer, the emphasis has to be on solutions which meet the changing needs of the workforce and specific individuals at differing stages of their retirement journey," he said. 

"There are lots of solutions out there all claiming to be the perfect fit - will there be anything unique and of value to clients or just an 'us too' moment?”

He added that appetite for workplace Isas would depend upon the outcome of the 2017 auto-enrolment review.

james.fernyhough@ft.com