A pension is a long-term investment. Its value can go down as well as up and could be worth less than was paid in. Laws and tax rules may change in the future. Your own circumstances and where you live in the UK will also have an impact on tax treatment.

Protecting the interests of workplace scheme members

In 2015, Standard Life founded an Independent Governance Committee (IGC) to work in the interests of its workplace personal pension scheme members. The main role of this committee is to assess the value for money provided by Standard Life Assurance Limited (SLAL) schemes.

On this page you'll be able to read the annual reports from the IGC, give your feedback and learn about committee members

What the IGC does

The IGC is committed to the development of stronger, higher-value pension products for anyone saving for retirement. They’re also here to:

  • Speak up for you
    If the committee agrees that value for money isn’t being provided, it will raise this with Standard Life for their consideration.
    Throughout the process, if the IGC isn't satisfied with the responses received from Standard Life it will escalate this to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). We may also communicate our concerns to you and your employer.
  • Listen to you
    The IGC don't deal with individual complaints, but they do want and value your feedback. The IGC would like your views on your pension plan and the service you receive from Standard Life.
    These views are an important part of reviewing the value for money of Standard Life schemes. The IGC focus on all aspects of the plan across its lifetime to provide a good outcome in retirement.
  • Our annual report 2020
    We encourage you to read our annual report for 2020. The report 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

If you wish to read the summary of our previous four reports they are available below:

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 (650KB).

Independent Governance Committee's full terms of reference
Response from Phoenix and SLAL IGC to CP19-10
Response from Phoenix and SLAL IGC to CP19-15
Response from Phoenix and SLAL IGC to CP20-9
Statement from Phoenix and SLAL IGC on the Covid-19 pandemic

As of the 25 April 2019, some changes  have been made  to the IGC to ensure a consistent governance approach for both Standard Life 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 5 years


  • IGC founded 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 the member chooses to pay for ongoing financial advice or to invest in a more expensive investment option
  • Plan charges capped at 1% unless the member chooses to pay for ongoing financial advice or to invest in a more expensive investment option


  • 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


  • Independent syndicated bench-marking exercise undertaken
  • Core defaults upgraded to ‘Universal Strategic Lifestyle Profiles’
  • Previous ‘annuity purchase fund’ restructured to universal design


  • 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 Board Members

David Hare portrait

Dr David Hare

Independent Chair

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 Kirby

Independent Member

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 Gunn

Independent Member

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 Christophers

Independent Member

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 advisers.

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.

Rona Cameron

Rona Cameron

Company Representative

Rona joined the IGC as a Company Representative in June 2020. Rona is a lawyer and joined Standard Life in 2009 after a period in private practice and in-house roles. Rona spent nine years working in Standard Life's Risk and Compliance function, leading an advisory team which supported business decisions, particularly in relation to regulatory change.

Rona currently has responsibility for governance frameworks that promote good customer outcomes and support the management of conduct risk across open and heritage businesses. Rona also has oversight of the proposition and development and management processes, as well as elements of our relationship with Standard Life Aberdeen.

Mike Pennel

Mike Pennell

Company Representative

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.


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