Protecting the interests of workplace scheme members

In 2015, Standard Life established an Independent Governance Committee 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 the Standard Life schemes.

The Independent Governance Committee

The Independent Governance Committee 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 2019

    Our annual report 2019, which I 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

    As the full report runs to over 80 pages, we have provided a summary.

    Annual report of workplace personal pensions 2018-2019.Annual report of workplace personal pensions 2018-2019.

     Full annual report

    Letter to member and summary report.Letter to members and summary report.

     Summary report

Please take a couple of minutes to complete this short questionnaire, this will help us set our priorities for 2019-2020 and improve our communications. You can also email the committee directly. Your feedback is crucial to the Independent Governance Committee's success.

If you wish to read the summary 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)

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 Hare 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 5 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 retired 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 until 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 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 is an independent professional trustee and investment specialist with Capital Cranfield Pension Trustees 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. She was an independent member of the previous SLAL IGC from outset. She is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment and a member of the Association of Professional Pension Trustees.

Sheila Gunn

Sheila is an experienced independent non-executive director. Sheila left legal private 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, Council of the Chartered Banker Institute, Lowther Homes Limited and the Ethics Board of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Scotland.

Mike Christophers

Mike is an independent member of the IGC and has worked in the insurance industry with an involvement in pensions for over 40 years both with insurance companies and employee benefit advisors.

He is currently Chairman of Mobius Life a platform for Occupational Pension Scheme assets and a Non-Executive Director of Forester Life. He was a partner of KPMG and lead the development of the Insurance Consulting practice. He also served for many years on the Boards of Lloyds Bank Insurance businesses including Scottish Widows.

Michael Craig

Michael joined Standard Life as a trainee actuary in 1986 and has held a number of management positions over the past 33 years, including head of product and technical consultancy.

Outside of Standard Life, he has been the trustee chair of the ABI staff pension scheme and he is currently a non-executive director of the Royal Blind.

Mike Pennell

Mike is a qualified actuary who has been with the Phoenix Group for over 25 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 restructuring activities and therefore has a broad experience across the business.