With only 60,000 policies to look after, Zurich has decided to disband its IGC and replace it with a less ambitious governance arrangement. Commercially this is sensible – an IGC doesn’t come cheap and a GAA comes a lot cheaper.
But it’s sad to see how Zurich and its governance budget has declined since 2015. When the IGC started it had high hopes, commissioning research on what members wanted and enlisting some of the brightest lights in the pensions firmament – including Anna Bradley, Mark Thompson and Laurie Edmans.
At one stage, Zurich were running its own brand, Eagle Star, Allied Dunbar and Sterling as pension brands, the corporate pension brand is now with Scottish Widows and most of the retail book is with Embark (now bound for Scottish Widows too).
I spent 15 happy years at Eagle Star, Allied Dunbar and Zurich and still am now a Zurich pensioner. There is much to be nostalgic about and I am sure that the IGC will be sorry to finish their work.
Their final report is a muted affair. Laurie has already left so the team is down to four. Anna Bradley writes with feeling about the struggle to get the Zurich Managed Fund’s long awaited asset restructuring over the line. Anna is now Chair of the Solicitor’s Regulation Authority and this report is organized around compliance with regulations. There are times when the legal style makes the document a little dry but I sense that this report is about ensuring that the IGC leaves Zurich with a watertight finale which leaves no issues for the new GAA or provider.
The IGC considers the value offered for policyholder’s money has improved over 2020 and has enjoyed comparing Zurich’s service levels with those of other providers. This is despite evidence from a benchmarking exercise it participated in that suggests that Zurich is lagging in many respects.
The final ratings.
The report demonstrates the attention to detail of a truly committed governance committee and I’m happy to sign it off with a warm rating
Anna has been a great chair and I give her report a green as a read.
Zurich have been well served by an IGC that has kept it honest – I give the IGC a green for their hard and effective work
Zurich’s value for money assessments have always been honest and sometimes brave, they have never cow-towed to their sponsors and I give them a green for their bold and pioneering work.
I hope that the individual members will find ample recreation in their later years and use the time freed from their duties to the full.