This blog addresses Barnett Waddingham on its AE Solution . For those not familiar with these things- it is a packaged solution that provides you with Standard Life’s Good to Go workplace pension. I have written about Good to Go which is available from http://www.pensionplaypen.com as are thirteen comparable plans – all of which are worthy an employer’s attention. As I say on here Good to Go is a good option
I have previously criticised these preferred partner deals. The £5,000 + it costs to employ Barnett Waddingham makes Standard Life’s proposition not quite so good to go
But the real issue is that the one solution stop takes “employer engagement” out of the equation.In the final analysis, employers decide the workplace pension their staff use for auto-enrolment not advisers.
It is like paying £5,000 to a priest to absolve you for future sins!
Frankly I would expect an independent actuarial consultancy to be more ambitious than to throw its hat in with a single insurer.
I am confused by why Barnett Waddingham want to tie their proposition to the Standard Life mast. their eye is on a prize but it it at the top of the mountain?
But that confusion is nothing to what I now feel when opening my digital in Corporate Adviser to read that Pitman Trustees have just appointed Barnett Waddingham to be the independent investment consultant to Standard Life’s various mastertrusts.
So what bit of the word independent can Barnett Waddingham claim to own?
No doubt they will argue that what happens on the investment consulting side of the Chinese Wall has nothing to do with what happens on the AE consulting side and that they were selected by Pitmans for Standard Life Trustees not by Standard Life themselves.
But as Leonard Cohen sings,
“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack, a crack in everything –
That’s how the light gets in”.
The crack in this is as wide as it gets and I do not like what the light reveals.
The relationship between a product distributor and a product manufacturer must be transparent. If it is not transparent, then trust is lost and trust in pensions is easy to lose and hard to regain.
I cannot see how Barnett Waddingham can have a strategic alliance with Standard Life as a key distributor and be the independent investment adviser to its master trust.
The relationship is not independent – it is inter-dependent. The conflicts that inter-dependency creates could and should be avoided. I do not welcome this appointment.