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 2018 covers 11,431 requests for information made by Portafina on behalf of 5,523 new clients to over 650 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

Hargreaves Lansdown1.4 weeks(3rd fastest in 2017)
Canada Life1.7 weeks(Fastest in 2017)
Scottish Widows1.7weeks(6th fastest in 2017)
St. James Place1.8 weeks(New entry)
Virgin Money1.8 weeks10th fastest in 2017

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

Equitable Life Assurance Society7.5 weeks (Slowest in 2017)
The Pensions Trust5.4 weeks
Mercer5.1 weeks(2nd slowest in 2017)
Aon Hewitt4.9 weeks
Reliance Mutual4.9 weeks

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

Legal & General1.5 weeks
The Pensions Trust1.9 weeks
Lafarge UK Pension Plan1.9 weeks
Railways Pension Scheme2.0 weeks
DHL Group Retirement Plan2.4 weeks


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

Royal Mail Pension22.0 weeks(10.2 weeks in 2017)
Staffordshire County Council17.2 weeks
Peninsula Pensions14.0 weeks
Kent County Council13.7 weeks
Merseyside Pension Fund11.5 weeks


Improvement is needed…

While the top performing companies have coped very well with the additional demand brought by the pension freedoms, the gap to the worst performers has grown considerably.

Shockingly, the slowest defined benefit scheme providers’ performance is best measured in months rather than weeks, with Royal Mail Pension taking an average of 22 weeks (5 months) to provide information. That’s 14 times slower than Legal & General and 10 weeks slower than what they were achieving last year.

For defined contribution schemes, Equitable Life Assurance Society were slowest for the second year running taking 6 weeks longer than Hargreaves Lansdown.

Generally, across both defined benefit and defined contribution schemes, the slowest providers are taking 4 weeks longer on average to provide information in 2018, then they did in 2017.

A FREE pension review with Portafina

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