I am a fan of Pension Bee. I visited their new offices in Southwark yesterday, I was shown into the post room, apparently they get a special delivery every day, so much mail needs to be scanned from the pension providers. There’s a room given over to post “the room that should not be” – I was told.
The grim reality of a pensions system that still relies on postal vans rather than digital technology emerges from research Pension Bee has done on the time taken to process transfer requests from their burgeoning customer lists. As the Pensions Minister hints at “zero sympathy” for providers who cannot put data digitally on the pension dashboard, I am left stunned that transfer times are going up – how can this Pension Bee! The evidence is in that room, the answer is in investment in better customer experience from organisations who are happy to take AUM, but not so keen to share digital data with their customers or representatives.
Here is what Pension Bee have got to say about the matter…
PensionBee analysis of Origo’s Pension Transfer Index has uncovered a 45% increase in the average time taken to complete a pension transfer from April 2018-March 2019 to April 2021-March 2022.
In addition, there has been a 23% increase in the time taken to complete simpler transfers (where the ceding provider has complete control) during the same period. In fact, the vast majority of pension providers included in Origo’s first pension transfer index in April 2018 have increased the time it takes to process transfer requests.
While this overall slowdown is certainly detrimental for consumers, those listed on the Origo Index at least display a commitment to transparency and to the eventual improvement of their transfer times. A large number of providers and third party administrators continue to not participate in electronic pension transfers or publicly disclose their transfer times, showing limited engagement in the industry’s efforts to improve transfer efficiency for consumers.
PensionBee is one of just six providers who have sped up their transfer times from April 2018-March 2019 to April 2021-March 2022. PensionBee has consistently taken an average of 10 days to complete a pension transfer request over the same four year period. This is in line with PensionBee’s proposed ‘Pension Switch Guarantee’ which would require a change in legislation to ensure switching providers is a quick, efficient and secure process which happens electronically within 10 days.
Romi Savova, CEO of PensionBee, commented:
“It’s very concerning to see a general malaise in pension transfer times. Particularly as a number of key players remain noticeably absent from Origio’s Index, despite slow transfer times being identified as a problem by the Financial Conduct Authority back in 2015.
This latest data proves just how crucial it is to move away from self-regulation within the pensions industry and instead implement a ‘Pension Switch Guarantee’ to restore confidence and trust in the pensions system, allowing consumers to take control of their financial future and plan ahead for a happy retirement. Customers deserve to have an effective process for voicing complaints to the Financial Ombudsman Service, giving them the same switching rights as is seen in other markets.”
Maybe providers will take note if they get the message of my previous blog.