How quick is your pension provider?

Royal Mail 12 weeks slower than in 2017
How quick is your pension provider?
January 2019

Getting basic information from your pension provider should be easy, right? Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out that way. New research from industry experts reveals which pension providers were most efficient in providing information across the nation in 2018.

Pension advice specialists, Portafina, has today published its 2018 league table of pension provider service times. The annual list benchmarks the time taken by different pension schemes to provide the basic information necessary to advise clients on areas like the pension freedoms.

The analysis covers 11,431 requests for information made by Portafina on behalf of 5,523 new clients to over 650 different defined contribution (DC) and defined benefit (DB) pension scheme providers and scheme administrators.

This year sees DB scheme providers continuing to improve their response time and closing the gap on the fastest DC scheme providers. However, those at the bottom of the table are worryingly taking even longer to provide basic information.

2018 Results for Defined Contribution Schemes: 

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

Hargreaves Lansdown 1.4 weeks (3rd fastest in 2017)
Canada Life 1.7 weeks (Fastest in 2017)
Scottish Widows 1.7 weeks (6th fastest in 2017)
St. James Place 1.8 weeks (New entry)
Virgin Money 1.8 weeks (10th fastest in 2017)

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

Equitable Life Assurance Society 7.5 weeks (Slowest in 2017)
The Pensions Trust 5.4 weeks
Mercer 5.1 weeks (2nd slowest in 2017)
Aon Hewitt 4.9 weeks
Reliance Mutual 4.9 weeks

2018 Results for Defined Benefit (Final Salary) Schemes:

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

Legal & General 1.5 weeks
The Pensions Trust 1.9 weeks
Lafarge UK Pension Plan 1.9 weeks
Railways Pension Scheme 2.0 weeks
DHL Group Retirement Plan 2.4 weeks

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

Royal Mail Pension 22.0 weeks (10.2 weeks in 2017)
Staffordshire County Council 17.2 weeks
Peninsula Pensions 14.0 weeks
Kent County Council 13.7 weeks
Merseyside Pension Fund 11.5 weeks

Propping up the bottom of the league of DC providers once again is Equitable Life Assurance Society, taking an average of 7½ weeks to provide the necessary information, two weeks slower than in 2017, compared to 1.4 weeks for the top of table fastest provider Hargreaves Lansdown.The two fastest DC scheme providers of 2018, Hargreaves Lansdown and Canada Life, were also in the top five in 2017’s league tables, showing great consistency in the service they are providing. The fastest DB scheme provider was Legal & General.

Shockingly, the slowest DB scheme providers’ performance is best measured in months rather than weeks, with Royal Mail Pension taking an average of 22 weeks to provide information (five months), 12 weeks slower than their 2017 performance, compared to just 1½ weeks for top performer Legal & General. Once again, the bottom of table is dominated by local council schemes.

Jamie Smith-Thompson, Managing Director of Portafina said:

“The pension freedoms put a strain on providers and it took a while for a number of providers to gear up to cope. The majority have things under control now and we are generally seeing an improvement in response times overall, even if the very fastest are no faster than the timescales we were seeing three or four years ago.


“The exception, of course, are the local councils who are struggling with the resource they have available to them. Nine out of the ten slowest schemes were local councils and it can be hard for clients to understand how things can take so long.


“It is a shame that the initial scope of the pensions dashboard seems to be fairly limited now to pretty basic information from a limited number of providers. It is going to be a while before we get to timescales that clients will see as acceptable in the digital age.”Jamie Smith-Thompson

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Pensions Expert

To be eligible for the tables, the provider must have received requests for information by Portafina, and have provided that information, on behalf of at least 10 clients with the information being received in the period 1 Nov 2017 to 31 Oct 2018.All data is Portafina’s own, taken from 11,431 requests on behalf of 5,523 clients in that period to 671 different pension providers and scheme administrators.

Press office

Katie Burgess, Portafina PR and Content Executive

Katie Burgess

PR and Content Executive

01634 930 600

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