Scottish Widows crowned best pensions provider in FD excellence survey 2020

Scottish Widows has been named the UK’s Best Pensions Provider in this year’s Financial Directors Excellence survey.

The survey, which is now in its 20th year, asked the UK’s leading finance directors and financial decision makers to rate their satisfaction with key service providers. As such it provides a definitive analysis of how well UK businesses are being served.

Jane Clark-Hutchison and Alison Nicolson, Co-Heads of Client Relationships – Workplace Savings, Distribution at Scottish Widows, said: “This award is always one that we look out for each year as it is evidence for us that we continue to offer the best possible support and solutions to our customers. To have won this award several years in a row makes us very proud of the service we are offering.”

They added: “One of our key differentiators is that we are the only pension provider who is part of a Banking Group. Being part of Lloyds Banking Group helps us stand out in many ways. For example, the commitment to market and investment in the proposition through to the bank level security wrapped around our systems ensuring security of customer data.”

Clark-Hutchison and Nicolson said that innovation lay at the heart of their offering to customers: “As part of Lloyds Banking Group we are completely changing how our customers interact with their pension by integrating the plan with day to day banking products through a single customer view. For those Scottish Widows customers who also bank with Lloyds Banking Group they will see their pension value and transaction history on their internet banking or banking app. It has been a challenge historically to get customers to engage with their pension but as this feature has removed all the friction from the process of accessing your plan we saw 106 million unique views of pension plans in 2019.”

Another recent innovation that has helped Scottish Widows break through with pension engagement is their ‘Meet Your Future Self’ tool which uses state of the art ageing technology to allow customers to have some fun with where they are on their retirement planning journey.

Clark-Hutchison and Nicolson said: “It is this innovative approach to pension engagement that I really believe helps us stand out. Our clients tell us that they enjoy the innovation and energy we bring to our interactions with them and their employees on a traditionally difficult subject to get excited about.”

They say that Scottish Widow’s relationship with its clients is really important to the firm, explaining: “Pensions are a long term investment and need long term relationships to get the most out of them and we are focussed on building partnerships with our customers – something more than just a transactional relationship. Our Relationship Managers are able to draw on a large team of experts and can ensure our clients have access to the right people at the right time. Our flexible team approach means that our customer relationships continue to develop positively. Over recent years we have also been on a digital transformation journey which has seen us enhance our online services for employers and their employees. It is this combination of great people and leading technology that ensures our service continues to develop.”

Scottish Widows has adapted its ways of working and support for clients in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Clark-Hutchison and Nicolson say: “It has been important to be able to support clients in a way that works for them and to be sensitive to their individual challenges due to the pandemic. We have seen a big shift to online meetings, from pension governance meetings to employee presentations. Both clients and ourselves have been learning together and sharing best practice. Winning this award during such a difficult year for us all is extra special as it shows that our service to clients has remained excellent despite the many challenges.”

As part of their customer service in this area, Scottish Widows has started running webinars for clients on how Covid-19 can affect pensions. It has also changed its Default Investment Fund to include a significant investment in Environmental, Social and Governance areas. Clark-Hutchison and Nicolson say: “We are acutely aware that the majority of our clients, like us, have a public commitment to working sustainably and the impact business can have on the environment. We are proud to be evolving our core default, where 94% of members invest, to reflect changing views and attitudes in this area.”

We would like to thank all participants for their time and contribution to the FD Excellence Survey. Please do join us at our next Finance Leaders summit which takes place online on 10th December.