Financial Adviser Service Awards  

Life & Pensions: 5-star providers

Life & Pensions: 5-star providers

A rundown of our five-star winners and the key activities and upcoming plans behind their success.

Dentons

Five key activities 

  1. All clients and advisers have a dedicated, named administrator allocated to them for all enquiries.
  2. Investment in staff to enable pension consultants and administrators to handle complex and simple enquiries efficiently.
  3. Technical CPD training and regular technical bulletins to keep advisers up to date with issues and opportunities in the Sipp and Ssas industry.
  4. Proactively ask for feedback on services.
  5. Experienced regional business development managers to assist advisers with their new client opportunities.

Upcoming plans

  1. Planning to increase staff numbers to maintain service standards – in particular expanding the sales and marketing team.
  2. Continued review of internal processes and procedures.
  3. Continuing to offer non-standard assets through to maintaining asset flexibility for advisers’ clients.
  4. Continually reviewing and developing online services to make the application process quicker and easier. In addition, developing an online portal for advisers and clients.
  5. Continued focus on core activity.

David Fox, director of sales and marketing, said: "Dentons has bucked the trend by being consistently profitable and with administratively robust procedures. We are committed to growing the business in a controlled manner in order to maintain service standards for advisers and clients.”

 

Retirement Advantage

Key activities

  1. Customer Charter remains to show commitment to providing great service to customers.
  2. No-hesitation payment of £25 if company fails to meet customer expectations in key areas.
  3. When people call the contact centre they instantly get through to a fully trained customer service adviser.
  4. 98 per cent of telephone queries are dealt with on the first contact.
  5. Continued investment in systems product propositions

Upcoming plans

  1. ‘Gober Method’ used by customer service teams who are encouraged to study for professional exams.
  2. Improvements to workflow systems used to measure achievements.
  3. Introduction of ‘boot camps’ for new members of the team to learn key processes.
  4. Continued investment in tele-underwriting service.
  5. Continued interaction on adviser feedback.

Craig Fazzini-Jones, group chief executive, said: “We are obviously delighted and rightly proud to be recognised by advisers as providing a high level of customer service. Reputations are hard fought but easily lost and we know there is no room for complacency. We are known for our innovation and customer service and we will continue to invest to ensure that continues in the coming year.”

 

Just

Key activities

  1. Just was recognised by Plain English Campaign for documents relating to its life and pension products and it has rewritten a further 350 documents.
  2. Education and training to help advisers identify and advise potentially vulnerable customers.
  3. More than 600 advisers have attended CPD-eligible 'Adviser Forums' across the UK to tackle topical issues.
  4. Working with compliance firm Thistle Initiatives to help advisers and compliance officers reduce their exposure to some of these risks.
  5. Rebranded to Just, following merger between Partnership and Just Retirement.  Continued focus on recruitment and team development.

Upcoming plans

  1. Plain English programme to be rolled out across all staff activity.
  2. Continuing vulnerable customers work.
  3. Continuing with adviser forums.
  4. Compliance forums.
  5. Assessing operations and seeing if they can be changed to help colleagues look after customers better.  

Stephen Lowe, group communications director, said: “Competition in the life and pensions market has increased and we’ve seen significant change in this sector as a result of regulatory interventions and changes in consumer behaviour. Against this backdrop, at Just we’ve also been busy successfully integrating our two businesses at pace. It’s a great credit to our people that we’ve maintained our focus on providing advisers with outstanding customer service as well as supporting them.”

 

Canada Life

Key activities

  1. Massive reduction in turnaround times, following improvements in internal processes and external communications.
  2. Increased focus and training on root cause analysis to make sure company learns from customers and instigates improvements.
  3. Continuous customer surveys.
  4. Employees have been trained in using plain English in their customer communications, which is helping ensure customers understand some extremely complex areas.  
  5. Canada Life has independent continuous sampling of both written correspondence and telephone calls.

Upcoming plans

  1. Reward programme that encourages and rewards staff members for finding ways to improve the customer experience.
  2. Improving processes.
  3. Driving better outcomes by managing risk.
  4. Enhancing technology to make it easier for advisers to work with Canada Life.
  5. Customer surveys and ongoing independent communications sampling.

Richard Priestley, executive director at Canada Life, said: “Focusing on listening to our customers and advisers and using this information to improve the way we deliver our service – this has allowed us to reduce turnaround times and shape our service to match the needs of advisers.

“Over 95 per cent of those surveyed would recommend us to friends and family. This strong service offering has helped the life and pensions business grow over 2017, and we will continue to build on this in future.”

 

Royal London Protection

Key activities

  1. Enhanced its digital protection capability with the launch of online and fully automated trust service for advisers placing a life policy in trust.
  2. Launched a new product incorporating insuretech and robo-underwriting for people with type one or type two diabetes with simplified underwriting that removes the need for a fasting test.  
  3. Streamlined mortgage protection to make it easy for advisers and customers by using data already collected as part of the mortgage application process.  
  4. Launched marketing studio website where advisers can select marketing material to personalise with their company logo and contact details.
  5. A dedicated case manager and underwriter to look after applications from start to finish.

Upcoming plans

  1. Invest in the whole customer and adviser journey, beyond just new business.
  2. Managed-conditions proposition aims to make insurance accessible for the underinsured.
  3. Roll out streamlined mortgage protection capability to additional partners and businesses.
  4. Develop data and analytics capability to offer optimal underwriting terms electronically.
  5. Enhance online trusts service to add additional trusts.

Jennifer Gilchrist, proposition lead at Royal London, said: "Our vision for protection is to give advisers a proposition that’s easy to recommend and gives the right cover at the right time with the right experiences for advisers and their clients."

 

Paymentshield

Key activities

  1. Launched introducer scheme to allow time-poor advisers to support clients with general insurance purchases.
  2. Restructured telephone broker development team, and dedicated people to each network dealt with, rather than a region.
  3. Created a ‘three months free’ insurance offer for remortgage clients.
  4. Rolled out National Conversation Week to promote value of informed advice and helped drive 7,000 additional sales.
  5. Commissioned a survey with the Institute of Customer Service to identify satisfaction levels among advisers to identify strengths and areas to improve.

Upcoming plans

  1. Making it easier and quicker for advisers to do general insurance.
  2. Running the National Conversation Week campaign again.
  3. Investing more in research, including adviser feedback.

Rob Evans, managing director, said: "Our commitment to providing a quality insurance product to advisers and their clients goes without saying, and we’re having a truly great year. In a market where advisers have lots of choice about who they deal with, our results are testament to the service and products we provide."

 

Royal London Pensions

Key activities

  1. Responding to huge demand for defined benefit (DB) transfers.
  2. Enhancing online journey for auto-enrolment employer.
  3. Beefing up teams and recruiting quality talent.
  4. On protection side, streamlining straight-through processing, with a focus on data analytics.
  5. Providing advisers with information in dashboard layout to help IFAs interpret data in a more effective way.

Upcoming plans

  1. In protection, will shift dial up on straight-through processing; introducing webchat, medical advisers and more underwriters into customer journey.
  2. There will be pilots to streamline mortgage protection application process.
  3. Continued investment in technology

Isobel Langton, Royal London intermediary chief executive, said: "We are obviously really pleased to consolidate our five-star Service Awards position. It has been hard fought."

 

Scottish Widows

Key activities 

  1. Developed e-commerce capability with online increments and a new End State Switching service, helping advisers to transact client business quickly and efficiently.  
  2. Made Retirement Account proposition more competitive by simplifying the tiered charging structure, and removing the drawdown charge for new business.
  3. To support workplace adviser service, Scottish Widows has improved direct dialling.
  4. Updated governance reports so documents provide scheme-specific insight.
  5. Changes made to protection proposition, including new cancer definition with clearer definitions and multi-benefit pricing.

Upcoming plans

  1. Delivering more products, propositions and servicing based on feedback.
  2. Continued investment in customer journey programmes.
  3. Raising awareness of the need for long-term financial planning and value of advice.

Ronnie Taylor, director of distribution, said: "Our job at Scottish Widows is to provide the building blocks for advisers and employers to help meet the needs of clients and employees. Anything that gets in the way of this is an area of focus for us.  We’ve been thrilled by the reaction we’ve had from advisers so far in 2017."