Money Marketing asks providers to justify their service levels and explain what improvements may be planned for the future.
Axa says its bottom position in the rankings reflects problems the firm was having with the introduction of its new individual pension product range at the time the survey was carried out. It says it was aware that its service levels slipped and has put a range of measures in place to rectify any issues that advisers might have been having.
Head of communications Paul Riddell says: “We welcome these types of surveys as important for improving service across the industry. We are confident that we will move up the index in the next six months.”
Scottish Life, rated second-worst in the table, says it is disappointed with the result but points out that it has recently moved the servicing of its individual pensions, which may it believes have caused short-term problems.
The group also says it would like to see how the results of the survey were worked out.
Head of communications Alasdair Buchanan says: “It is always disappointing to be so far down the list of results than we would have wanted or expected to be. We do test services standards for quality but know our individual pensions were not too strong at the start of the year.”
Spokeswoman Lucy Pope says: “We are making great steps to improve on the areas identified. As far as core handling goes, we have dedicated contact points for Sesame, other networks and national accounts. We have also made some new appointments to improve field presence. We are also working hard to improve new business processing and tracking.
“We are taking steps to improve and we expect these improvements will be reflected in the future.”
Bupa Individual Protection product and marketing manager Steve Casey says it is keen to work with Sesame to understand the results.
He says: “In two of the areas that Bupa has low scores, there are a very low number of comments so I wonder how skewed the results are – 341 advisers sounds like a large number but there are only 10 who commented on adviser handling of phone calls and 12 for the ability to process and track new business.
“We are moving to a higher category for customer service and the ratings that we received from Defaqto were very positive.”
Norwich Union says it is pleased to be in Sesame’s top 10 but says it still has a long way to go to bring its services up to where it believes they should be given the company’s size. Spokesman James Evans says: “We want to see service as a differentiator and the link with Swiss Re will hopefully help us to do that.”
Just Retirement topped the list and the firms says it believes being a niche player gives it an edge.
Group marketing director David Cooper says: “We have made service to IFAs key to everything we do.”
Skandia says it is pleased that despite its merger with Old Mutual, its service levels are still held in high regard by advisers. The firm was ranked second by Sesame and director of national accounts Steve Powell says maintaining standard levels was a key priority during the integration of the two businesses’ platforms.
The US-owned firm says its places a strong emphasis on service. Chief executive Mike Kalen says: “We ensure advisers get a live person as we recognise how important this is. Advisers are impressed by our turn-round times.”