Six pension providers have signed up to a voluntary framework of professional standards launched by the Chartered Insurance Institute to boost public confidence after the introduction of pension freedoms.
Aviva, Standard Life, Scottish Widows, LV, NFU Mutual and Old Mutual Wealth have all committed to the framework, called the 2016 Commitment. Phoenix Group, Reassure and HCL have also signed up.
CII financial service and insurance markets director Steve Jenkins says: “In light of pension reforms we thought we would instigate discussions with a number of providers about how they might put in place some voluntary standards that were stretching but realistic.”
The signatories must show “high quality standards of customer service”, demonstrate a commitment to career development, and ensure staff participate in formal development programmes.
The majority of customer-facing staff must be working towards certificate-level or equivalent qualifications while managers are expected to all be working towards becoming diploma-qualified, or equivalent.
Company leaders are expected to hold professional qualifications and be members of a professional body.
Those that sign-up are committing to implement the standards by the end of 2018 and Jenkins says progress will be measured by the number of people holding qualifications or other recognised standards, not necessarily those offered by the CII.
Research carried out by the CII last year found consumers are thinking differently about what they want from their pension provider in terms of information and support.
Jenkins explains: “We conducted research which shows that the majority of people will go back to their provider to ask what they should do. The providers will have much more direct consumer interface with customers.”
The CII expects more signatories to commit to the framework throughout the year and is also talking to the FCA and Government about the initiative.