This blog (and the Pension Plowman) have been a fan of L&G for some years. We admire L&G for its pioneering work on auto-enrolment, for its support of Pension PlayPen and for its work on engagement through what its CEO calls “Beveridge 2.0”.
LGIM, its fund management arm is a clean and transparent outfit that invests in managing its assets and takes SRI and ESG seriously. We like its management , its ethos (the commitment to ValueForMoney and we like the way it has gone about its business.
But… (and you knew there would be a “but” didn’t you!).
But I am confused and increasingly annoyed by the mixed messages it is sending to the market around its WorkSave pension and wonder if there are others who read this blog who feel the same way.
Early this year, L&G abandoned its come one come all attitude to scheme underwriting and stated that they would only accept new business application to its workplace pension (Worksave) if they were using links with pensionsync of ITM’s eAsE product. We could see the logic of this, it drove best practice in the market and reduced L&G’s operational costs.
But it was a radical strategy and, to work, needed a massive commitment to this new tech-based distribution. That commitment simply hasn’t arrived. The marketing support needed to make this strategy happen never arrived and what support is given to employers is reserved for a select group of employee benefit advisers and corporate IFAs who can still use the old on boarding route, that the market had been told was being closed.
One app for the rich……
A similarly half-hearted attitude is being displayed to product development. Yesterday we received an upbeat email (either because I am a member of the WorkSave pension or because we have established so many through Pension PlayPen. Here it is.
(You can’t access the links from the picture , but you can see L&G’s site here.)
Just what “record-breaking registrations” means, I’m not sure. If it an internal benchmark that’s been beaten, then good – but I’m not sure there are any external records as in “the Guinness Book” for registrations to an online pension portal – perhaps L&G will enlighten us.
The user experience (a case study)
More importantly, what is this mail leading us to? I went to the App Store where an L&G app was waiting for me (It’s called IPS Legal and General) and is supposed to make things simple like this.
I googled the service and found it offered everything I wanted from an online product.
I keyed in my account number but was rejected. I phoned various people at L&G and (after much holding) finally got through to someone in IT who laughed at my naivety.
Silly me- I’d been looking at an entirely different Legal & General personal pension, the one I could manage using a dedicated app!
So, feeling stupid, I went back to the email, “mobile optimisation of my Managed Account”. Well I’ve been looking at my pension on my mobile quite a lot recently, I’m trying to plan my spending plan as I’ll be 55 in 3 months. So I went on again and yes, it did look a little better
But I didn’t feel the service had been optimised.
All that had happened was that I could see things a little more clearly. This was L&G 1.0, what I could see of L&G IPS was 3.0!
I don’t know how rich you have to be to get the service upgrade (I’ve got just over £350k in my Managed Account), but for the £150 per month I’m paying L&G in operational charges, I would have thought I could have got the app!
I’d been sold some lipstick on a pig, some sausage not the sizzle. You don’t get second chances with web-engagement.
By the time I’d done all this, I’d wasted nearly two hours of my day and was thoroughly disillusioned. Far from engaging with my workplace pension on the move, I wanted to get on the phone to the people I know at L&G and tell them what a thoroughly disappointing experience I had had.
Ordinary punters don’t give web-services a second chance – do it right or don’t do it at all!
L&G – get your act together!
I didn’t have a go at the people I know , because I have a huge reservoir of goodwill for L&G, as mentioned at the top of the blog. I didn’t have a go to the people I spoke to at Kingswood as I know most of them too – and they are being closed down.
I really don’t want to deflate L&G, I want them to be as good as they can be- which is very good indeed.
But I have no time for this half-hearted and confusing approach both to distribution and product development. If you want to operate a hard-line distribution policy, don’t go cutting side-deals around the outside and embarrass your mainstream suppliers who are playing by your rules.
If you are going to operate personal pensions, don’t offer an app for one group and “web optimisation” for another. If you are going to take delivery seriously, then get some proper payment systems in place so people can spend what they have saved and if you want to be the market leader going forward, start engaging with the Blockchain.
And if you are reading this as an L&G member of staff, be assured that so will members of your IGC.