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Standard hits out at Hargreaves and AJ Bell over pension transfer system


Standard Life has criticised Hargreaves Lansdown and AJ Bell for not signing up to automated pension transfer system, Options.

Options, which is run by Origo, allows providers to transfer funds automatically at retirement. Options II, which Standard Life is testing, would automate pension transfers before retirement.

Standard Life head of pensions policy John Lawson says smaller pension providers, such as A J Bell and Hargreaves Lansdown, have failed to sign up for either Options service.

He says: “There are increasingly pension pots being built up at providers outside insurance companies and none of these guys are signing up.

“How easy is it if you have your pension at Hargreaves Lansdown or AJ Bell and you want to transfer to Standard Life?

“The FSA could name and shame those that take the longest to transfer funds and they might question their commitment to treating customers fairly if it is taking companies too long to transfer funds.”

But Hargreaves Lansdown head of pensions research Tom McPhail says HL has better transfer times than most firms using Options.

He says: “Our business processing times are far in advance of most members of Options at the moment. We have looked at Options and we have had conversations about whether we should participate but we feel that it is far behind where we are already at.”

AJ Bell marketing director Billy MacKay says: “Options is not absolutely perfect for Sipp providers at the moment because it handles cash transfers but not in specie work.

“But we are interested in it and we are continuing to talk to Origo about the possibility of joining.”

The Government is consulting on the barriers to the transfer of small pots as part of its call for evidence on early access to pensions.


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There are 11 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Could it be because the majority of their clients are not likely to want to transfer to Standard Life? A client who has selected a SIPP provider is perhaps more likely to use USP from their SIPP than an annuity or USP from Standard Life

  2. David Trenner - Intelligent Pensions 4th February 2011 at 9:13 am

    John, Are you having a laugh? An insurer knocking a SIPP provider on admin?! Next thing you will be telling us that the money should be invested in with profits again! (Didn’t I read that Standard have reduced bonuses despite last year’s strong performance on equity markets??)

    The days when insurance companies set the standards are long gone – thankfully!!

  3. What a negative, pointless and shoddy article. Money Marketing’s legal team might want to look very carefully anyway at the juxtaposition of the 5th and 6th paragraphs. Does Money Marketing or Standard Life have evidence that the providers named have particularly slow transfer times and are in danger of being named and shamed by the FSA ? If not, this piece is pretty close to being a slur on their businesses.

  4. David – An “insurance company” that doesn’t sell insurance, healthcare. Standard Life are a SIPP provider.

  5. I find it strange that Hargeaves Lansdown have not signed up to Options.

    I remember being in meetings alongside representatives of their company (on the advisory side). They were the strongest advocates of all pension providers joining the system regardless of market position…

  6. Keith Spencer – Standard Life do sell Insurance – its through LV. They also do savings and investments – SIPPs are just a small part of that.

    Also – David is correct. I work for a smaller bespoke SIPP provider and there is no way on this planet that we would take advice on administration from any life office.

  7. John,

    When you and your provider cronies push for in specie investment bond transfers you can comment, in any case I thought all your transfers were internal!

  8. Has the 4th Feb officially become ‘Knock’ SL day!!
    Nobody informed me of such a day but it’s interesting reading!!!

  9. I have a SIPP with one of the providers Standard is criticising.

    Why would I want to transfer my money from a firm which gives excellent service to one which is often mediocre at best?

    I don’t care if they never sign up to Options II.

    Standard Life’s comment smacks of blatant self-interest and an attept to rubbish good competition.

  10. Keith(9:21am) – I’ve checked my calender and its not April fools day but thanks for the laugh. FYI standard life arent a SIPP provider they are a WRAP company, ask anyone who works for them 90% of the company focus is a on WRAP teh rest of course is marketing.! Of which this article is a blatant example of…..

  11. Big ears the 2nd 7th February 2011 at 8:05 am

    Having just moved all my funds into the HL Vanatge SIPP, and having done my research as a result, I ask the question, WHY would i want to transfer my penion to Standard Life?

    For higher charges, for less investment selection? I dont think so!

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