Scottish Widows IGC – you can’t talk your way past Babloo


Scottish Widows have published their IGC report and it makes interesting reading. Babloo Ramamurthy, it’s chair, is a great believer in communication. You can tell by the number of instructions he gives to his provider to sort out its communications.

In 2016 the IGC was one of several who commissioned research from NMG to get feedback from customers about what mattered. Perversely, the customers said that what mattered to them was the outcome of their savings, not what people told them as they went along.

I don’t know how the research questions were framed, but  a year on  the answers seem to have changed a little.babloo

If Scottish Widows customers  really want these things, then they are a marketing department’s dream.

My experience of how people actually behave is quite different, they take every opportunity to walk away from pension communications – unless it gives them what they want to know – e.g. – they are looking at a long -well resourced retirement.

Along with the IGCs of six other “leading providers” , Scottish Widows have commissioned research from “a company called Redington” to see how well they are all doing – relative to each other. The IGC is sharing this information with Scottish Widows – but sadly not with members.

But this is a report that actually engages

I am very sceptical about all this consulting, especially as Scottish Widows have been providing the IGC with excellent factual information , which finds its way into the appendices of the IGC report.

Babloo 2

This is precisely the kind of factual information that punters like me are crying out for and the Scottish Widows is full of it! The IGC’s analysis of Scottish Widows investment proposition is clear and insightful, there are clear instructions to the insurer on how to manage the outsourcing of Widows’ back book to Diligentia.

The report looks a treat with some nifty info graphics which work online to show you how things have changed since last year.

So for engagement, the report gets a green – if I could give it a green star – I would.

Value for money?

As mentioned above, there is no shortage of good information in the appendices, but the IGC’s obsession with communication clouds their judgement. The truth is that the vast majority of payrolls would rather stick needles in their eyes than deal with Scottish Widows.

The IGC’s assessment is this

The IGC has rated Scottish Widows as GREEN for administration, reflecting the continued improvement to service levels and the changes being made which are expected to further improve VFM

This judgement is based on an extraordinary statement

Scottish Widows has also made a significant investment in digital technology, with a new service for employers now being used by 9,600 schemes. This has led to improvements in important areas such as premium collection, new joiners and leaver processing, with a reduction in the level of complaints.

While we can welcome Scottish Widows to the twenty first century, the damage inflicted on Scottish Widows reputation by the quite extraordinary  negligence seen from 2013-16, means that for all its boasting, the IGC is presiding over the aftermath of an auto-enrolment fiasco.

Benchmarked against organisations such as People’s Pension , Aviva, Standard Life and most of all NEST, the digital integration of Scottish Widows product with employer payrolls, has been non-existent. The IGC were delusional in giving Scottish Widows a green for administration in 2016 and remain delusional today. If Babloo Ramamurthy wants evidence, he should speak to those running provider integrations at Sage, Iris and other leading payroll software companies.

I am prepared to give Scottish Widows IGC’s report an amber rating for its work on Value for Money, but suspect that the five star ratings that IFAs are giving Scottish Widows should be ignored. The IGC should be talking not to intermediaries but to the employers who use their workplace pensions.


While the IGC may be a little out of touch with those who manage auto-enrolment, they certainly know their way round their life company and the report is authoritative.

Scottish Widows have done more than any other life company to clean up its legacy charging and the IGC have played their part in making this happen, hats off to them.

I am absolutely sure that the sound group on the IGC will do a great job overseeing the integration with Zurich.

If only the IGC would spend less energy with consultants and IFAs and more time with employers and members, it would be even more effective. All the same I give the report and the work that sits behind it , a strong green.

In conclusion

This is a strong report from an experienced IGC with a good chairman. I have had my pop at Babloo Ramamurthy in the past for wearing too many hats (all of them with State Street labels), but I’m prepared to shut up now.

Scottish Widows are set for a revival and no one would be happier than me , if they revived the fortunes of Zurich in the process



About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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