Our investigation revealed while a small number of providers were producing good returns and high-quality product information, the majority fell far short of what could be considered acceptable across three main areas:1: Many companies operate a selection of sub-funds or different product types and they produce indicative results picking the best of their crop to illustrate their returns. This deceives the investor who may be in a different product or plan to the one illustrated, which may have significantly different (and worse) results.2: Companies are not providing planholders with information about guarantees and are in some cases, it appears, trying to “hide” the guarantees. We have also seen too many examples of providers having either told, or in some cases, written to planholders telling them they do not have a particular guarantee or feature when in fact they do.3: Many companies have staff with no workable knowledge of with-profits dealing with planholders’ detailed questions and queries. At a general level, too, many companies have very poor generic information about their with-profits plans, hiding behind their PPFMs as the policyholder’s home for finding information. Most PPFMs are alien to policyholders.
Such appalling standards of service cannot be allowed to continue. We call on the CEOs of each provider to implement three basic changes to how they present product information to raise standards in this market to a level deserving of planholders:
This is the very least the industry owes its customers and should form the basis of a transparency charter, which it behoves each provider to sign up to.