Royal London Independent Governance Committee Annual Report for 2016: Understanding value for money
05 April 2017
Royal London, the largest mutual life, pensions and investment company in the UK, today publishes the second annual report of its Independent Governance Committee (IGC).
A key priority of the IGC in 2016 was to focus its efforts on understanding the Voice of the Customer and the appointment of Myles Edwards, a Royal London customer, as an independent member to the Committee on 1 November 2016, was just one of several ‘customer focused’ initiatives that the IGC put into action during the year in support of this aim.
Royal London was one of 11 major workplace pension providers that took part in an extensive research project, arranged by Sackers and NMG Research, which included 820 Royal London customers, to gain a better understanding of members’ views of value for money. The research was important in establishing the building blocks customers believe are important to them in terms of value. The results show that in all key areas, Royal London customers have a positive view of how the provider is performing.
Royal London also arranged for the IGC to have unfiltered access to the views of its workplace customers. The independent members have access to a portal where not only can they see in real time the key information on customer interactions, but also the verbatim views of workplace pension customers. This ensures that there is the utmost transparency for the IGC in the details they see.
Royal London shares the IGC’s determination to ensure the market develops a deeper understanding of transaction costs and believes that this may be achieved by improving the standardisation of the measurements used for these costs. This is seen as essential to ensure costs can be compared accurately between providers and necessary to provide confidence to the Government, regulators and the public that the costs are clearly understood.
In this second annual report, the IGC have shown transaction costs in pounds and pence terms as well as in percentage terms. This shows how small the transaction costs, which are within the control of providers, actually are and that the largest element of the cost is Government tax.
Speaking today Phil Green, Chair of the Royal London IGC, said: “Our focus in 2016 has been understanding the needs of customers. Our new independent IGC member is already adding additional customer perspective to the committee, and in particular we welcome the facility which Royal London has provided for the IGC members to read verbatim feedback from customers. The industry-wide research in which we took part showed clearly that consumers are looking for more engagement with their pension savings and a greater sense of ownership. We will be working with Royal London during 2017 to assess what practical changes can be made to address these concerns. Our report also confirms that the improvements in value for money for Royal London consumers which were recommended in our first report have now been implemented. The IGC continues to seek improvements in the value and benefits on behalf of workplace pension customers”
Commenting on the IGC report, Royal London’s Director of Policy, Steve Webb said: “The Royal London IGC continues to provide a valued source of challenge and debate with the business. As a member-owned business, responding to the needs of our customers is a top priority and we have learned a lot during 2016 about what our customers want from a pension provider, including good governance and clear communications. Royal London customers will be encouraged to see that in 2016 the costs of managing their funds were dwarfed by the investment returns which were achieved on their behalf. We look forward to continuing to work with the Committee during 2017 to further improve our value for money offering to customers.”
Full details of the recommendations and the timeframe for their implementation are outlined in the Royal London IGC Reports are available to view and download via the following link, www.royallondon.com/IGCReport
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Notes to editors:
The Royal London IGC was formed in April 2015, with the majority of members independent of Royal London, to oversee the governance of the workplace pension schemes administered by Royal London. All providers of workplace pensions that do not have a Board of Trustees are required to have an Independent Governance Committee distinct from the provider. The current members are:
Phil Green, Independent Chair
David Gulland, Independent Member
Peter Dorward, Independent Member
Myles Edwards, Independent Member
Isobel Langton, CEO, Royal London Intermediary
Jon Macdonald, Chief Risk Officer, Royal London
As at 31st December 2016, Royal London has over 22,000 workplace pension schemes, which represents over three quarter of a million workplace pension members.
About Royal London:
Royal London is the largest mutual life, pensions and investment company in the UK, with Group funds under management of £100 billion, around 9.0 million policies in force and 3,253 employees. (Figures quoted are as at 31 December 2016).