Along with 40 or so others, I went to the L&G IGC Annual Member Forum yesterday morning. I left with a beautifully produced slide deck and a professionally printed copy of this year’s IGC report- I also left with a feeling that I’d missed something.
Well I’d missed the final session entitled “creating member delight”, which by the look of it – would have given me a taste of the improvements members (like me) of the L&G workplace pension will get at some point in the future.
I’d have also missed the Q&A, scheduled for 15 minutes of a two hour session.
The presentations I did go left a number of questions in my mind which could not have been addressed in 15 minutes. Considering this had been billed as a “Forum”, I was surprised that debate was not on the agenda.
Just for the record, here are some of the questions that I – a member – wanted to ask
- L&G has recently announced its intention to move to the Bravura platform, was the IGC consulted, what is its opinion of this decision and what alternatives were considered. This is the platform that will enhance the member’s experience but what will be the implications on the future price of L&G pension management?
- L&G recently launched a multi-asset version of FutureWorld, is it an upgrade on the current version, is it under consideration as the default. What are the views of the IGC on introducing the themes of sustainable investment, good governance and social responsibility into the default of the workplace pension?
- L&G ran one of the two workplace pensions available to steelworkers in BSPS. How does the IGC consider the promotion of the schemes as a receptacle for transfers, how many of the 8500 transfers from BSPS were received in the Liberty Workplace Pension and are there things that could be done better in future?
- Just why is it taking so long for L&G to “create member delight”. I am two years past 55 but still have the clunky member portal I had then. L&G’s is a mainly ?disintermediated proposition- there aren’t many financial advisers about, members are being asked to shoulder the risk but being given precious little help?
- What are the IGC’s thoughts on L&G pulling up the drawbridge on smaller employers (they now won’t accept new business from schemes with 50 employees or less)?
- What is the IGC’s view on the employer interfaces established by PensionSync and ITM (eAsE)? Does the IGC feel it is treating its employers well?
- With so little changing, I get the distinct impression that L&G are more interested in giving Smart – the workplace pension it does invest in – a leg up, at the expense of its core policyholders?
- It is selling it’s legacy book to ReAssure, when can we see some investment in its workplace pension proposition?
These questions should have been discussed yesterday, they weren’t, I came prepared to ask them but after 90 minutes of fudge, I left – not wanting 30 minutes more soft-soaping on a product I’ve been waiting two year for – but still can’t use.
I left for the Pension PlayPen lunch where ten of us, hammered out the priorities for those reaching retirement without the help of a financial adviser. Frankly it was a discussion that was waiting to happen at L&G’s IGC.
It may sound churlish, bearing in mind L&G are unique in holding this event for the IGC, but frankly – yesterday treated the members like idiots, suppressed comment and demonstrated that L&G simply aren’t practicing what they preach. Yesterday showed an IGC and a life company, in decline. LGAS has most definitely had it and on yesterday’s showing it will be heading for Phoenix or similar within a few months.
Is L&G going zombie on us?
The current IGC produced what I considered a dull and complacent IGC report this year, yesterday’s meeting reinforced my concerns that it is treading water. 1.6m people depend on L&G’s new product for “retirement outcomes” but LGIM, who now own the Workplace proposition, look increasingly disinterested in their fate.
Is L&G going zombie on us?
Here’s my advice to Dermot Courtier, Chairman of the IGC; shape up or shape out.
We need a new dynamic chair who will allow member’s questions to be asked and not pack the meeting with fluff. Much as I like Michelle Cracknell, her session “entitled update on behalf of the customers” took the place of the Forum we had promised. TPAS does not speak on behalf of the customers, the customers do.
We were told by Sacha Sadan how noisy LGIM’s corporate governance were , while we were required to sit supinely in our seats for the whole two hours.
I do not want to see this decline continue. I cannot sit on this IGC for a whole lot of reasons, but I’m not prepared to watch this train crash play out any longer
If you don’t shape up, I’m out.
L&G’s original IGC had some real oomph- given it by Tony Filbin and Paul Trickett, it was hard hitting and it really listened to members.
The current incarnation is more interested in buying in benchmarking reports from Redington and outsourcing the “customer experience” to TPAS, than hearing from members. Those few of us who could get time off on a Monday morning questioned why nothing had been done to fulfil Dermot Courtier’s promise last year to consult with us.
One of the few questions that did come from the floor asked why the event could not be open to those who can’t get to the meeting physically. The IGC Annual Member Forum has become, like the IGC report, a showcase for L&G. It is not a Forum at all, and yesterday was an exercise in suppression.
I can find other homes for my money. I still appreciate L&G’s pricing structure and the quality of the fund management I receive, but I can now get the same funds on other platforms at not much more. Frankly I’m disillusioned by a firm that promises a lot but is currently failing to deliver.
And I don’t want my Governance Committee to front the inadequacy of L&G rather than exposing it. If the only thing that Dermot Courtier and his team could rate weak about L&G’s performance was in its treatment of legacy, then we don’t just need a new chair, we need to start again.
Unless the quality of the member service and the governance improves – I’m off where I can manage my money in a 21st century manner.
NEST only received £7m in transfers in 2017, it has outstanding governance, excellent funds and like several other workplace pensions. On yesterday’s evidence – it should be getting a lot more money in in 2018.
Pension Bee now offers my chosen fund on its platform with a proper member interface and the prospect of being paid a pension through open banking. Why shouldn’t I have that kind of experience from what the market considered, until recently, the most innovative of providers?
I want 21st century governance and 21st century management, not soft-soaping at 10.30 on a Monday morning.