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 in 2015. 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. 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 2017 covers 12,337 requests for information made by Portafina on behalf of 6,821 new clients to over 650 different defined contribution, defined benefit pension scheme providers and scheme administrators.

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

Simply the best…or the worst?

Defined Contribution 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 Life 1.2 weeks (8th fastest in 2016)
B&CE Benefit 1.6 weeks (10th fastest in 2016)
Hargraves Lansdown 1.8 weeks (6th fastest in 2016)
DHL Group Retirement Plan 1.8 weeks (7th fastest in 2016)
Legal & General Assurance Society 2.0 weeks (New entry)

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

Equitable Life Assurance Society 5.5 weeks 
Mercer Ltd 5.4 weeks
Fidelity Pension Management 4.4 weeks
Fidelity Investments 4.4 weeks
Capita 4.2 weeks (4th slowest in 2016)

Defined Benefit (Final Salary) 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.

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

Diageo Pensions  1.6 weeks  (2nd fastest in 2016)
Clerical Medical  2.1 weeks  
Prudential        2.4 weeks  
Phoenix Life Ltd 2.6 weeks  
DHL Group Retirement Plan   2.6 weeks  


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

East Riding of Yorkshire (Council) 17.1 weeks  (Also slowest in 2015)  
Lancashire Council    11.1 weeks  
West Midlands Pension (Council) 10.3 weeks  
Royal Mail Pension 10.2 weeks  
Strathclyde Pension     7.3 weeks (4th slowest in 2016)


Improvement is needed…

Whilst 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.

In fact, the slowest provider, East Riding of Yorkshire, is taking an average of 17.1 weeks to provide the same level of information that Diageo provide in under two weeks. Looking at the bottom five performers overall, Royal Mail Pension scheme is the only non-council scheme to appear.

Generally, across both defined benefit and defined contribution schemes, the slowest providers are taking 1-2 weeks longer on average to provide information in 2017, then they did in 2016.

Jamie Smith-Thompson, Managing Director of Portafina, said, “In this day and age it is pretty shocking to still be measuring these results – and congratulating the best performers – in terms of weeks taken to provide what is generally pretty straightforward information. I look forward to the day when these league tables are measured in seconds!

Better sooner rather than later…

Your pension could be the difference between just getting by and a future packed with opportunities. Which is why it makes sense to check it on a regular basis. The sooner, the better! Best of all, it shouldn’t cost you a penny to get expert, regulated advice.

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