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Ringing the changes

One of the most important parts of the e-Excellence process is the capacity for product providers to have their services re-rated when they release enhancements.

With the various surveys being carried out throughout the year, clearly, the timing of our studies will not always coincide with the release of new services and upgrades by insurers.

The e-Excellence process is about recognising those providers which have made a significant effort to deliver services to advisers, thus enabling them to work in a more effective way. It is therefore highly appropriate to recognise when the rating for a provider increases due to service improvements as they take place.

When we first published our group personal pension ratings in March, Scottish Widows and Standard Life scored single e and double e ratings respectively. In the intervening period, both have enhanced their services so that, measuring their current offerings against the 2005 group personal pension e-Excellence model, both companies now qualify for the highest triple-e rating. This increases to five the number of life offices with the highest rating in this product area. The full table of ratings and re-ratings for all product areas in 2005 can be found on page 2.

Our unique scoring model is applied consistently across all insurers, when identifying their original e-Excellence rating in any product area and then reapplied when a re-rating is requested. This means we can identify instantly the areas where providers have made significant changes and which further changes or enhancements beyond this would be beneficial. Upon request, we can generate reports for providers to document this.

In the case of Scottish Widows, it has launched a new service that is a radical transformation of their group pension technology. This has involved the establishment of an entirely new group pensions technology platform. They have significantly enhanced the processes used for scheme set up and particularly the contribution collection process so that this is extremely simple for employers to operate.

To help advisers, the service now allows the bulk download of information using both CSV and the Origo XML standard formats. Members will no doubt also find the powerful what if calculator that is now part of their service valuable when trying to understand their likely future income in retirement and what the effect of taking various courses of action will do to enhance this. This new platform is in fact the first offering from any product provider to have achieved a triple-e rating at launch.

Standard Life needed to do less to their current service to reach the highest category. However, examining details of its revised service, it is clear that valuable work has been carried out in a number of areas. These include improvement to its process for the delivery of individual member quotations, some functionality around online increments and the provision of benefit statements. The cumulative effect of these changes moves the firm from a double e rating to triple e.

With the increasing frequency of service upgrades from life offices, it is reasonable to expect that other companies will achieve increases to their e-Excellence ratings in the months ahead. These will be reported here as a regular part of the e-Excellence supplements.

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