I wasn’t quite sure , reading Anna Bradley’s chair statement that I wasn’t on my blog. The photos of the IGCs look like they were taken on an iphone, neither of which detracts much from what is a good – if rather informal read.
Not long ago, Zurich was on top of the DC world, picking up a collection of prime mandates through the smartest of intermediaries. That changed with a change of direction sending the FNZ platformed corporate book to Scottish Widows , leaving the IGC with the legacy Eagle Star and Allied Dunbar books.
Tone and Structure
There’s not much value for the Swiss in this so see Phoenix snapping around its heels,. From the look of the photos , the IGC is thoroughly enjoying itself.
The tone of the report/blog is informal, the Chair speaks straight to us and the language is grounded.
Our main task is to ensure you get value for money from your Zurich pension savings. We use what people like you tell us about what’s important to them, to guide our work. This includes Zurich making sure your money is well invested, providing good customer service and helping you understand how to take the right actions to get a good pension outcome. Our ambition is that Zurich schemes will deliver the outcomes members like you expect of them and support the lifestyle you want in retirement. To achieve this you need to know what these pension savings might deliver, and what actions you could take to improve your outcomes
If only all Chairs had such a clear vision of their job. While I’m no more sure about the grammar , the folksy style is refreshing after a weekend of highly serious statements and dire warnings from Government spokespeople invading our living room.
I’m not sure that Anna had me in mind when writing this, but the blog spoke straight to me and for that I’m giving it a green for tone of voice and for its simple , readable structure.
Scaling back the ambition
Early Zurich reports bristled with energy. The IGC were definitely in game changing mood but that’s changed. The IGC now has limited clout; they’ve run their eyes over Zurich funds discovering some outliers, thinking this not necessarily a problem because
some funds which have higher transaction costs deliver a better return compared to their peers. But we have asked for assurance on this point and are awaiting a plan from the company about how they will make this part of their business as usual monitoring
The IGC describe their interactions with Zurich as if they were amiable grandparents dishing out advice on Facebook
We think, and Zurich agree, that the key areas for improvement are in: complaints handling, further improving ‘right first time’ and developing online services for those who want them.
We will work with Zurich on what a plan to make improvements should look like. The information that we now have will allow us to agree service standards for the future. We expect these will be more challenging and would therefore also anticipate that this principle might be rated lower next year.
Realism and experience is probably all that the IGC can bring to the party. But at a time when the world is in lockdown, it’s refreshing to feel part of the process.
But this isn’t really what people pay good money for. Comparing this with what policyholders would get with Phoenix, it’s clear that this what’s going is little more than care and maintenance. I can give the IGC an amber for its effectiveness and I don’t see any way that in the current climate , that could move to green.
The Value for money assessment
Nothing is excellent, nothing disastrous. Things are under control, or at least they were when this report/blog was put together.
But if Covid19 closes down Zurich’s Swindon or Cheltenham operations, is there a contingency plan?
The lack of urgency in this meandering report suggests to me that just about anything could be happening behind the scenes, while the IGC dream dreams
The clear impression is that people who hang around in Zurich are going to get a second class experience and if they had any sense they’d be moving their money into an environment where it would receive proper professional attention.
There is “laid back” and there is comatose, and this VFM assessment is treading a fine line. It gets an amber.
So what of the future?
The FCA have recently issued some changes to the remit of IGCs and one of our new responsibilities will be to report on Zurich’s policy on ESG considerations, member concerns about ESG and stewardship. We will need much improved information from Zurich next year on how they are implementing their policy in order to fully meet these new responsibilities.
Good luck to them on that