We’ve seen unprecedented changes in the pension industry over recent years. Ronnie Taylor, distribution director at Scottish Widows explains what Scottish Widows is doing to support advisers in these changing times.
Post introduction of pension freedoms what permanent changes can you see in the “at and post-retirement markets?”
Pension freedoms have fundamentally changed the retirement market out of all recognition. This has been great news for customers, creating increased choice and flexibility, and allows advisers to add value through people’s retirement journeys. In the past, someone built a pension pot and then at retirement the decision was simple, they purchased an annuity.
Now, people need support on an ongoing basis – through accumulation and decumulation – and most will need the support of an adviser throughout. This feels a permanent change to the landscape.
The falloff in annuity business levels may be temporary as these products still provide a real benefit for those clients who still value the security that comes with a guaranteed income. And finally, I think the “dash for cash” we saw in the early days of pension freedoms was a one off, with clients very quickly looking for more detailed conversations to better understand the various options available to them.
How are you, as a provider, helping advisers in this evolving market?
The best way to add value is to start by listening to adviser opinion and feedback. We spend a lot of time doing just that and the overarching themes we hear are that advisers need more time to spend with their clients and so they need providers like us to keep things simple and focus on getting the basics right.
At Scottish Widows, our approach is built on three core pillars. Firstly, we aim to add value through our expertise in the life and pensions market. Secondly, we deliver a value for money service for both advisers and clients.
And finally, we aim to be easy to do business with. We have made a number of improvements over the last eighteen months and it was great to see these changes making a real difference to advisers as we picked up a hat-trick of awards last November at the annual Financial Adviser Service awards.
Moving forward, we plan to keep improving our proposition – particularly in the digital space – and will continue to listen to the feedback we receive from advisers as to how we can make their lives easier, so that they in turn can focus on providing a truly excellent service to their clients.
What do you believe are the biggest issues advisers face and what are you doing to help?
Advisers don’t need more clients – what they need is more time to offer the best possible service. Our job at Scottish Widows is to provide the building blocks for advisers to help meet client needs.
Anything that gets in the way of this can be an issue for advisers. So key areas like the FSCS levy and more generally the overall changes to regulation can reduce advisers’ ability to meet client needs.