Best (and worst) pension provider service times revealed

Second annual league table released

Pension league table

Waiting for information can be incredibly frustrating – especially when it relates to your finances. Pension advice specialist Portafina, has today published its latest annual league table of pension provider service times, which benchmarks the time taken by different pension schemes to supply basic information*. But which company is topping the table, and which is the worst offender?

As in 2015, Halifax once again took first prize for best performing provider, taking on average 1.2 weeks to provide the information requested. This is a further improvement on its winning 2015 performance of 1.5 weeks on average.

Topping the performance league for final salary schemes is Royal Bank of Scotland, which outperforms all but one of the defined contribution scheme providers, with an average time of 1.4 weeks.

This level of service puts into context the providers that sit at the bottom of the table, such as First UK Bus which, despite coming last in 2015, appears not to have improved its service times – with the average wait sitting at a staggering 10 weeks.

Another company that doesn’t appear to have improved is St James’ Place which has slipped from 5th slowest DC scheme provider last year to the slowest DC scheme provider in 2016. Its average wait time of 4.3 weeks to provide information isn’t setting records at either end of the scale, but remains a lengthy timeframe which is likely to cause frustration.

Jamie Smith-Thompson, managing director of Portafina, said:

“I am not surprised to see Halifax topping the tables again as it is one of the few companies we never have to chase. It is great to see that it takes its customer service so seriously and that it is so consistent. Overall we have seen a steady improvement in timescales from 2015 but I think there is a long way to go before the majority of providers are matching customer expectations in what is now a very connected world.”

What about last year’s slowest defined contribution scheme provider, the government’s NEST scheme? It has improved significantly in 2016 to mid-table respectability by dropping the average times from 5 weeks to 3.2 weeks.

Jamie adds:

“We received a very positive response to the results of our 2015 tables from NEST and it is great to see that it has made such an improvement.

“These timescales really matter, especially when you consider that a similar amount of time is generally required to administer any transfer. That means that for some schemes a client can have everything sorted within a few weeks whilst for others it can mean four months or more of delays simply waiting on their provider. Understandably that can be both frustrating and potentially damaging to a client’s plans.”

2016 results for defined contribution schemes

Fastest DC schemes based on average number of weeks to provide information

Halifax        1.2 weeks  (Also fastest in 2015)
Guardian Financial Services      1.5 weeks
NPI          1.6 weeks
Black Rock      1.6 weeks
Now Pensions 1.7 weeks


Slowest DC Schemes based on average number of weeks to provide information

St James' Place      4.3 weeks (5th slowest in 2015)
Towers Watson        3.7 weeks
Friends Provident           3.7 weeks
Capita      3.3 weeks
Reliance Mutual 3.3 weeks


2016 results for defined benefit (final salary) schemes

Fastest DB Schemes based on average number of weeks to provide information

Royal Bank of Scotland      1.4 weeks (New entry for 2016)
Diageo Pensions        1.8 weeks
DHL Group Retirement Plan           2.1 weeks
Social Housing Pension Scheme      2.3 weeks
Legal & General  2.3 weeks


Slowest DB Schemes based on average number of weeks to provide information

First UK Bus Pension   10.0 weeks  (Also slowest in 2015)
Durham County Council    9.2 weeks
Strathclyde Pension     8.8 weeks
Hampshire County Council       8.2 weeks
Mercer Ltd 8.0 weeks

Call 0800 304 7288 for a friendly chat about your pension

* The analysis covers 9,137 requests for information made by Portafina on behalf of 6,423 clients to over 700 different defined contribution scheme, and defined benefit pension scheme providers, made from 1 October 2015 to 30 September 2016.

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