Quick or slow: how does your pension provider compare?

How is your pension provider doing?

Getting basic information from your pension provider should be easy as pie, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way.

Many things are slowing pension providers down, including a massive increase in requests from people wanting to know their options following the introduction of the pension freedoms. And yet, these delays could effectively be costing people money. Especially if it means they spend longer in a high-charging, poorly performing scheme.

You may have already experienced this kind of frustration. And please believe us when we say, we know how you feel! We chase dozens of pension providers every day, for information that should be relatively simple to share.

And while we want to give our clients the answers they are looking for as quickly as possible, we also want to set realistic expectations. That’s why we have done a little digging into which pension providers respond the quickest and which take the longest to supply essential details.

Our research for 2019 covers 13,021 requests for information made by Portafina on behalf of 7,008 new clients to over 478 different defined contribution and defined benefit pension scheme providers, and scheme administrators.

So, which provider tops our fourth annual league table, and which falls short? And more importantly, does yours feature and where?

Simply the best…or the worst?

Defined Contribution (DC) Schemes

A pension scheme where contributions are invested and the size of the pot depends on the performance of investments.

Fastest DC schemes based on average number of weeks to provide information

Canada Life1.2 weeks(2nd fastest in 2018)
Scottish Widows1.4 weeks(3rd fastest in 2018)
Friends Provident1.5 weeks
LV=1.7 weeks
Clerical Medical1.9 weeks

Slowest DC Schemes based on average number of weeks to provide information

Equitable Life Assurance Society5.9 weeks (Slowest in 2017 & 2018)
DHL Group Retirement Plan5.0 weeks
Aon Hewitt4.4 weeks(4th slowest in 2018)
XPS Administration4.2 weeks
Mercer3.8 weeks(3rd slowest in 2018)

Defined Benefit (DB) Schemes:

A pension scheme where the amount of pension income you receive in retirement is based on how many years you’ve worked for your employer and the salary you’ve earned. Also known as final salary schemes.

Fastest DB Schemes based on average number of weeks to provide information

Railways Pension Scheme1.8 weeks (4th fastest in 2018)
Legal & General2.0 weeks(Fastest in 2018)
Nilgosc2.0 weeks
Aviva2.2 weeks
Vauxhall Motors Pensions Department2.4 weeks

Slowest DB Schemes based on average number of weeks to provide information

South Tyneside Council15.0 weeks
Royal Mail Pension13.0 weeks(Slowest in 2018)
Nottinghamshire County Council12.6 weeks
Kent County Council11.6 weeks(4th slowest in 2018)
Greater Manchester Pension Fund11.1 weeks


Improvement is needed…

Canada Life and Scottish Widows prove that consistent good performance can be achieved if you have the right processes in place, and the right attitude towards your customers. The same is true in the more complex world of DB schemes, with the Railways Pension Scheme and Legal & General consistently providing the required information in a similar timescale to the best DC providers.

Jamie Smith-Thompson, Managing Director of Portafina, explains some of the barriers that the slowest providers put in place: “Equitable Life require clients to call the scheme to provide additional information, but won’t tell us what that additional information is so the clients can’t prepare. DHL require an additional authority form to be completed, which is clearly designed as a barrier.

“A number of councils, including South Tyneside, actually require a client to contact them themselves to request a specific authority form to be sent to them, and then for the client to complete it and return it when it eventually arrives – just in order to provide the information necessary to advise the client. It is frankly ridiculous when you are a regulated adviser and you have the client’s clear authority to request what should be standard information on their behalf.”

Your no obligation pension check with Portafina

We will help you make the right decision about your pension, with advice that’s refreshingly frank.