Protecting the interests of workplace scheme members

In 2015, Standard Life established an Independent Governance Committee (IGC) to work in the interests of members of its workplace personal pension schemes. The core role of this committee is to assess the value for money provided by Standard Life schemes. On this page you'll be able to read the annual reports from the IGC, give your feedback and learn about committee members.

The Independent Governance Committee (IGC)

The IGC is committed to the development of stronger, higher value pensions products for those saving for retirement and are here to:

  • Speak up for you

    If the committee doesn't consider that value for money is being provided we will raise this with Standard Life for their consideration.

    Throughout the process if we aren't satisfied with the responses received from them we will escalate this to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and may also communicate our concerns to you and your employer.

  • Listen to you

    We don't deal with individual complaints, but we do want and value feedback. We would like your views on your pension and the service you receive from Standard Life.

    These views are an important part of the assessment of value for money from Standard Life schemes – we'll focus on all aspects of the plan across its lifetime to provide a good outcome in retirement.

  • Our annual report 2020

    Our annual report 2020, which we encourage you to read, is available below. This includes:

    • Our opinion on the value for money provided by Standard Life
    • Our consideration of your feedback
    • The concerns raised with Standard Life and how they responded

    Annual report of workplace personal pensions 2019-2020.Annual report of workplace personal pensions 2019-2020.

     Full annual report

Transaction costs

Transaction costs for Standard Life Assurance Limited funds within scope of the Independent Governance Committee (IGC).

Explanatory notes:

  • The full fund list shows the transaction cost information available to the IGC for its 2019/2020 Annual Report
  • The information shows the position for the twelve months to 30 September 2019 and includes 544 funds
  • The Annual Report provides commentary and the IGC’s conclusions on transaction costs and the value for money implications for members of contract-based workplace pension schemes written by Phoenix

You can download the Transaction costs spreadsheet here.

You can also email the committee directly. Your feedback is crucial to the Independent Governance Committee's success.

If you wish to read the a copy of our previous three reports they are available below:

Independent Governance Committee's full terms of reference.

 Terms of reference (PDF, 65KB)

Response from Phoenix and SLAL IGC to CP19-10

 Response from Phoenix and SLAL IGC (PDF, 79KB)

Response from Phoenix and SLAL IGC to CP19-15

 Response from Phoenix and SLAL IGC (PDF, 79KB)

As of the 25th of April 2019, we have made some changes to our IGC to ensure a consistent governance approach for Standard Life Assurance Limited workplace customers and Phoenix Life workplace customers.

The members of the IGCs have been selected in order to include:

  • Sufficient depth of knowledge and experience in the various performance areas that contribute to the value for money assessment (for example; investments, customer service, customer communications)
  • An appropriate blend of activity and experience across the pensions and wider financial services industry (for example; pension trustee experience, life office experience).

SLAL IGC key achievements over the past 4 years

  • 2015/16
    • IGC established with four independent members, including IGC Chair, plus one SLAL representative
    • Value for Money framework agreed and core default strategies assessed
    • Plan charges capped at 1% unless member chooses to pay for ongoing financial advice or to invest in a more expensive investment option
    • Exit charges capped at 5% for over 55’s
  • 2016/17
    • Redington appointed to provide an independent overview of investment funds and strategies
    • All core and scheme-specific default investment strategies and their underlying components assessed
    • Independent market research exercise undertaken to understand what policyholders value and how SLAL is perceived relative to other pension providers
    • Exit charges on retirement capped at 1%
    • Policyholders and Employers encouraged to review annuity-targeting strategies
    • IGC attendance at retirement roadshows for policyholders
  • 2017/18
    • Independent syndicated benchmarking exercise undertaken
    • Core defaults upgraded to ‘Universal Strategic Lifestyle Profiles’
    • Previous ‘annuity purchase fund’ restructured to universal design
  • 2018/19
    • Rolling programme of Scheme Rule changes commenced to address remaining annuity-targeting strategies
    • Removal of £495 guidance fee for retiring policyholders
    • Agreed changes to core default investment solutions to improve long-term performance
    • Hosted policyholder meetings in Edinburgh and London
    • Improvements in telephone opening times

Meet the Committee Members

Dr David Hare

David joined the Standard Life IGC as Independent Chair in April 2019, and has been the Independent Chair of the Phoenix IGC since 2015.

He has over 30 years of experience in the UK insurance industry. He qualified as an actuary in 1988 and has held various actuarial, marketing and financial risk management roles in a number of life insurers, including five years as Chief Actuary, UK & Europe at Standard Life. From 2012 to 2017, he was a partner at Deloitte, specialising in actuarial audit and review work, including providing Independent Expert reports to the Court on the policyholder impact of five different inter-company transfers of insurance business. Having returned from Deloitte, he now holds a number of non-executive roles with UK insurance companies.

David was President of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) from June 2013 to June 2014. Prior to becoming the President-Elect of the IFoA in June 2012, he was a non-executive member of the then Board of Actuarial Standards of the Financial Reporting Council (from January 2010). He was a member of the Independent Project Board that oversaw the ABI’s audit of the legacy pension schemes identified by the OFT in 2013 as being at risk of being poor value for money, whose December 2014 report included a number of recommendations for IGCs to follow.

Ingrid Kirby

Ingrid has been an Independent Member of the Standard Life IGC since 2015, and joined the Phoenix IGC as Independent Member in April 2019.

She is an independent professional trustee and investment specialist with Capital Cranfield Pension Trustee Ltd, after 30 years’ experience of pension fund investment, including 25 years working at Hermes Investment Management for the BT Pension Scheme and other third party clients. She now has a portfolio of trustee roles, acting as Sole Trustee, Chair of Trustees, and Co-Trustee encompassing large and small DB/DC arrangements in both commercial and not-for-profit organisations, bringing extensive and in-depth investment expertise to trustee boards and their Investment and DC sub-committees. Ingrid is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment and a member of the Associate of Professional Pension Trustees.

Sheila Gunn

Sheila joined the Standard Life IGC as an Independent Member in April 2019, and has been an Independent Member of the Phoenix IGC since 2015.

She is an experienced independent non-executive director. Sheila left private legal practice in 2009 to pursue a management career in industry and undertake non-executive appointments. Her first assignment was with Ignis Asset Management, to work on the merger of two asset management businesses within the Phoenix Group.

Sheila is currently Group Vice-Chair of the Wheatley Group and Chair of Wheatley Solutions. Her other non-executive appointments include the Accounts Commission, Scottish Building Society, Council of the Chartered Banker Institute and Lowther Homes Limited.

Mike Christophers

Mike joined the Standard Life IGC as an Independent Member in April 2019, and has been an Independent Member of the Phoenix IGC since 2017.

He has worked in the insurance industry with an involvement in pensions for over 40 years, both with insurance companies and employee benefit consultancies.

Mike was, until recently, Chair of Mobius Life (and remains on the Board of the holding company), a platform for occupational pension scheme assets, and a non-executive director of Forester Life. He was a partner of KPMG and led the development of their Insurance Consulting practice. Mike also served, until recently, on the boards of Lloyds Bank’s insurance businesses, including Scottish Widows.

Michael Craig

Michael has been an Employee Member of the Standard Life IGC since 2015, and joined the Phoenix IGC as an Employee member in April 2019.

He joined Standard Life as a trainee actuary in 1986 and has held a number of management positions during his career. Prior to his retirement in July 2019, he was the business sponsor for the Pensions Transformation Programme, a director of Standard Life Trustee Company Limited, and also the trustee chair of the ABI staff pension scheme

n addition to his IGC role, Michael is the independent chair of the Royal Blind charity.

Mike Pennell

Mike joined the Standard Life IGC as an Employee Member in April 2019, and has been an Employee Member of the Phoenix IGC since 2015.

He is a qualified actuary who has been with the Phoenix Group for almost 30 years, having originally joined Britannic Assurance. His current role is focused on strategy and planning within the life companies of the Group and supporting various projects including those related to integrating businesses acquired by the Group.

Mike previously worked in Finance and was responsible for financial planning and forecasting. He also has experience in product development and a variety of projects including some of the Group’s early acquisitions and restricting and activities and therefore has a broad experience across the business.