Safeguarding our strength podcast

Our CEO, Barry O’Dwyer discusses our response to the current crisis and how we’re safeguarding our financial strength.

You’ll hear an update on our current business position, how we’re protecting our financial strength and our plans for the future. Barry will also give you reassurance that our capital position is good, and that we’re confident in our ability to withstand the current situation.


Hello. My name's Clare Moffat and I work at Royal London. I'm delighted to be joined today by Royal London Group’s CEO, Barry O'Dwyer.

In these times of great uncertainty we understand confidence in Royal London is key for you. So I'll be asking Barry some questions about Royal London’s response to the crisis, how we're safeguarding our financial strength and what you can expect from Royal London going forward.

Barry can you tell us a little bit about Royal London's response to the coronavirus outbreak?


Yes, thanks Clare. It's worth saying upfront I think that none of us has lived through a health crisis like this that has quite so many economic ramifications.

The virus represents a new risk for the world economy and therefore for our business but our business is all about risk management, and so we've taken a clear and straightforward approach to addressing this new risk.

We have been taking action to protect our financial strength which is really important as we need to keep our customers’ money safe and secure. But our day to day operational priority has been the health and well-being of our colleagues so that we can continue to deliver an excellent service for our customers.

In just six days we were able to move our entire service operations out of our offices and into our homes. 99% of our teams are now working from home with only a small number of colleagues working in the office to handle incoming post. All of our processes are fully operational and our telephone lines are open as normal. This means that we can continue to be there for you at key moments of truth. And we understand that we need to be there for you, now more than ever.


And how does a situation like this impact investment?


Well a pension is a long-term investment and it's normal for values to go up and down. In these times when fund values are going down, it can be tempting to make a change but we'd strongly recommend you talk to your financial adviser before doing anything. While there are no guarantees, the hope and expectation is that values will generally go up again, despite the short term volatility.

While markets have been volatile our investment experts have been continuously monitoring what's been happening. We believe that all investment options should be monitored on a regular basis like this, and this is a core part of what we do for our customers, making sure that the portfolios deliver in line with the objectives that we've set for them.

We believe communication is also key to how we help customers at a time like this, so where possible we'll make sure we keep you updated by email and through our website and mobile app.

We've updated our website with new articles, podcasts, tips and information to help you understand and manage your finances during this situation and beyond.


Are customers able to take confidence from our financial strength?


Yes, our capital position is very strong. Our capital allows us to invest in our business to the benefit of customers creating better technology, for instance, and ultimately providing better service. It also allows us to withstand market shocks as we're seeing currently. Having a capital buffer allows you to survive volatile markets.

We don't expect the virus to have a material long term impact on our business. The group remains very well capitalised and we’ll continue to take appropriate action to protect our capital position.

We're confident in our ability to withstand the turmoil. We're also pleased to still be making our fourth annual ProfitShare award. At a time when customers are seeing the value of their retirement savings fall, ProfitShare will help provide a small boost and so we shared £140million with around 1.8 million customers on the 1st of April.


Finally, what more can customers expect from Royal London during this crisis – but also once it's behind us?


Well as a mutual we take a long-term view and we're continuing to invest in our business to make sure we're delivering the best we can for customers. This means providing you with the service that you've come to expect from us. Whether that's during a crisis, or on a normal day.

Hopefully there will be some good to emerge from all this misery that we're seeing around us and it feels like it might leave us with a stronger sense of community and shared responsibility. Of course, these are the very foundation stones of mutuality and indeed of Royal London.

I think there will also be a sense that we might not just want to get back to the way things were. The reductions in emissions that we're likely to see in 2020 might make us all reconsider whether there are alternative ways of running an economy.

I think there will be a renewed and increasing interest in all elements of what we call responsible investing. Customers already expect good governance and oversight from Royal London. But I think we'll need to do more work to understand and to respond to how your demands will change in respect of how your investments are managed. You can rest assured that Royal London will carry our share of responsibility for making this happen.


Thank you, Barry, for explaining why you should feel confident Royal London and thank you for listening. Have a good day and stay safe.