Advisers warn on impact of life co strikes

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Advisers have warned a spate of strikes at providers risks consumer detriment and will only add to already poor service.

Prudential staff in Reading began industrial action yesterday over plans to move 81 annuity-related roles to Mumbai.

Unite members voted for industrial action last week, which will see employees “not co-operate with or undertake any work” related to Project Jupiter, the internal name for the offshore move.

The roles being moved relate to servicing annuities, bereavement, and tax, power of attorney and bankruptcy enquiries.

Pru was among the firms hit by an earlier two-day strike by Capita in July, alongside Aviva and Royal London.

Staff at Legal & General also backed industrial action earlier this year over the closure of its flagship Kingswood headquarters in 2018.

Page Russell director Tim Page says: “With some of these companies the response times are so bad that the odd day here or there on top of the lead times might not make much difference.

“If you are looking to set up an annuity it can be a nervous time for clients. If it increases the time for that income to start then it could cause extra distress to those clients at a nerve-wracking time.”

Yellowtail Financial Planning managing director Dennis Hall says: “We are more concerned with the overall state of service. Advisers have known for several years that service standards have been slipping constantly and they don’t seem to be getting better.

“Somewhere along the line the staff, who are getting it from all sides, clearly feel this is the only thing they can do.”

Investment Quorum chief executive Lee Robertson says: “It is not mission-critical, but it is annoying. Life companies very often are not that communicative, quick or accurate anyway, so anything that makes that worse is not good news.”

Pilot Financial Planning managing director Ian Thomas says: “I respect everyone’s right to withdraw their labour. But it is a sign that all is not well at these organisations in general.”