Adviser confidence in Standard Life has taken a battering in the aftermath of the Sterling pension fund debacle, research suggests.
In a survey conducted by Professional Adviser, almost a quarter of advisers say they no longer trust the company and its products, while a further quarter remain unsure. Less than half (43%) said they were certain they would continue to work with the company.
However, some advisers have defended the life assurer's actions and describe its decision to compensate 97,000 customers who lost almost 5% in pension funds they thought were safe as "swift and correct".
Chris Geeson, managing director at Geeson Financial Services, says he has lost faith in a stalwart of the financial world.
"The little quirks they tried did nothing but cause more bad feeling," he says. "[It's actions) were seen for what they were, which was a blinding sideswipe to try and get them out of the position they were in, but it didn't work. No one stood for it."
Evan Owen, of the IFA Defence Union, belittled Standard Life's compensation package, arguing the damage had already been done and pointing out a number of effected firms are ineligible for compensation.
"Standard Life is a company run by actuaries for the benefit of actuaries," he says. "I used to think they were great but now I have no time for them at all. If they want to restore confidence they need to be fair to advisers and to clients."
However, some advisers say mistakes are unavoidable and can be acceptable so long as the offender's response is correct.
"I think Standard Life's decision was absolutely the right thing to do," says Peter Hargreaves, chief executive of Hargreaves Lansdown. "Providers have often walked away from problems like this in the past, and it's good to see things are changing."
IFA Peter Chadborn, of CBK Colchester, adds: "Standard Life, without exception, has historically provided the best service to IFAs.
"It is a trusted brand among advisers and consumers, so the Sterling fund debacle has unquestionably damaged its reputation. Anything it can do to repair that damage will serve it well in the long run. Bad decisions get made all the time and the test, for me, is how it responds."
Speaking to The Sunday Times, Brian Dennehy, of adviser Dennehy Weller, says: "It is the first time in my career spanning three decades that I can recall a major institution doing the right thing so early in an episode, without everyone resorting to lawyers and trial by media."
To comment, contact Charlotte Banks on 0207 484 9943 or email: [email protected]
Have your say:
"I cannot begin to imagine what planet the IFA supporters of Standard Life are living on. Over the past five years Standard Life has constantly sought to erode the position of any IFAs that don't support them, and continually tried every trick in the book to maximise profit from clients through fair means and foul. The latest farce is their SIPP website, which tells the public it will advise them of IFAs in their area. Only IFAs who heavily support Standard are on the list and, in my postcode area, one of those on the list is the wife of a Standard Life business development manager, whilst most IFAs aren't even listed. I firmly believe TCF doesn't exist for Standard Life." Mike Inkley, MD, MJP Media ImagesIFAonline
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