Scottish Widows boss Toby Strauss has told the Telegraph that his company is already facing a capacity crunch as it digests the impact of legislative changes over the past two years and faces the challenges of 2015.
The capacity crunch that he must face is his own organisations capacity to change.
I worked within a large insurer for ten years and have seen examples where change has been embraced and where it hasn’t. In my example, Eagle Star changed into the very successful Zurich Assurance while Allied Dunbar failed to adapt to the new circumstances and its brand, its sales force and its product lines are a thing of the past.
The challenge of change is not met by an organisation but by its leaders. Tobi Strauss is the leader of Scottish Widows and he is backed by Lloyds Bank. His insurer is going through a tough time (by his own admission) with service standards falling and some of the strategic bets taken in the last decade looking like losing tickets.
But these problems are local and result from poor management decisions. Scottish Widows cannot ask for the pace of reform to slacken so that it can keep up! Instead it must man up to its challenge, improve morale, improve systems and establish a strategic direction that will get it back on track.
If it shows the intent to do so, it will have friends to help it do so.
The Friends of Auto-Enrolment want to see a strong Scottish Widows and we will engage with Toby and his team to ensure that the interfaces between his workplace pensions and client payrolls work properly and don’t result in added business strain.
First Actuarial (and its many intermediary supporters) will work with Scottish Widows to ensure that existing and future clients get the most from its products and services.
Pension PlayPen will support Scottish Widows as a key part of Britain’s private pension infrastructure.
As proof of that pudding, here is a short video we made about Scottish Widows which we will be showing on social media and http://www.pensionplaypen.com
No one should get left behind – and that includes insurance companies. So come on Scottish Widows, lets see you on the front foot.
At the start of this year, you made a bold promise to the market to bring on 10,000 new auto-enrolled workplace pensions by the end of 2017. You promised us a new and revitalised at retirement proposition and you sold your investment department to Aberdeen so you could focus on best in breed open-architecture investment options for your members.
I would like to see Scottish Widows and other insurers in the workplace pension markets meeting the challenges they face today with the energy , commitment and good humour that my leadership at Eagle Star showed to turn our boat about.
But we didn’t do it by advertising our shortcomings or by complaining about the extent and depth of change. We did it by focussing on the customer -the people on whose behalf we were investing, administrating and communicating.
So please Toby Strauss and the ABI, take courage and move forward , don’t look back!