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How do you rate a provider?

Defaqto are looking at how they rate SIPP providers to better take account of the fact that volume isn’t everything.  This will be no easy task and we suspect that what comes out of it will still fall well short of perfect.  Let’s hope that it is at least an improvement though.

I worked for an organisation that provided self invested pension products via intermediaries and if Defaqto’s rating was anything to go by, they were second to none.  This was something of a shock to me as being at the other end of things, I was aware of just how poorly the company was run and how bad the service which advisers and clients received actually was.

There now seems to be an emphasis on financial strength above mere volume of SIPPs on the books.  Seems reasonable enough, although it does play into the hands of those who are choosing to pre-empt any changes to Capital Adequacy by lobbying for a requirement that is many times the current amount of capital sitting in their bank account. 

However, two points to make on this; firstly, yes consumers are interested in strength (who wants to open up a SIPP with a provider that won’t be around in 25 years time?) but aren’t they also interested in integrity, knowledge and service to name but a few values?  And secondly, just what is the agenda of these firms seemingly forcing the issue of capital adequacy?  Surely they wouldn’t be so under hand as to promote an agenda of squeezing out even more small, specialist firms?  Maybe we should leave that second point for another day and instead ask;

how much attention should ever really be paid to ratings of any sort unless they come from a consumer?

Trip Advisor owe their success to the fact that consumers (in this case holiday makers and tourists) can go online and discover what fellow consumers have to say about things.  Would it be what it is today if all it offered was a star rating from one source, allocated according to a rigid criteria that fails to take account of so many of the things that matter when you are going on holiday?  No, of course it wouldn’t.

I know what you’re thinking, it is after all exactly what I’d be thinking at this point; you’re just miffed that Defaqto don’t even know you exist!  Well, whilst you might expect me to say this, but that really isn’t the case.  A bit like being relieved that your 12 year old is popular but not part of the ‘in crowd’ we take pride in being different but popular with all who trust their pension arrangements to us.

Until defaqto start dishing out stars for honesty, integrity, technical excellence, work ethic, turnaround times, accuracy, pro-activity and good old fashioned consideration, then we don’t really want any. 

PSG weren’t just prepared to fit around my schedule and put the time into explaining, face to face, how it would all work, they also sent senior members of their Management Team half way across the country at the drop of hat to provide further assistance.  Their ability to deliver complex solutions is matched by their attitude towards customer service.  I look forward to continuing to work with PSG.

Jon Tibbs, JT Associates

The PSG pension product portfolio

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