Phoenix plans to launch digital portal amid service complaints

Phoenix Group has outlined plans to launch a “new and improved” digital portal for UK advisers.

He hopes the service will “improve the way it engages with advisors” and create “more opportunities for them to serve their clients.”

A spokesperson said Money Marketing the firm will post more details to the portal “in the near future.”

Phoenix has recently come under fire for its low service levels.

Commenting on a Money Marketing article, Kevin Neil – a financial adviser at Laurence Anthony Associates – singled out the firm for “a complete and utter mess” when dealing with a client’s pension plans.

“We took on a new client in mid-April who had plans with RPGs [global absolute return strategies] and a retirement date at the end of April,” he wrote.

“We sent the [letter of authority] at the office address on the latest information sent to him. I kicked him out three weeks later to be told they were just applying it because we had sent him to the wrong office – three weeks to transfer the mail internally to the correct department.

Neil continued: “It only got worse from there.

“It took them another fortnight to switch agencies and notify that the pensions team had passed the request for pension options.

“A continued pursuit to be told that because there were GARs involved, manual calculations had to be done and there were backlogs both in this team and in the technical team who then had to check the figures.

“We sent in a formal complaint in early July and finally got retirement options the first week of August.

“Unfortunately, the client has two plans, and they only sent the documents for one plan. Despite pursuing the second, we still haven’t gotten it.

Phoenix Life has received 216 negative reviews on Trustpilot since 2015, representing 86% of all reviews received. The majority of them fall between 2020 and 2022.

The company has been heavily criticized for being slow to respond to customer questions, if at all.

“For 16 years, this company has refused to send me my annual statement. I have now for the third time completed paperwork so I can cash out my funds and get paid,” one customer wrote.

“I have had no communication from them and have been waiting for weeks for them to release the money to my account.”

Another customer review said: “I’ve never had so much trouble trying to take my pension as a lump sum, only a small amount of money, but I feel like they’re doing everything to delay payment.

“When I started the process, I was told I had to speak to customer relations.

“Then I was given a number to call the customer service team to request forms to collect my pension as a lump sum. It was the wrong number and they couldn’t help.

“I was then given a number in Glasgow, it was the wrong number and they couldn’t help either, then I was given a number in Peterborough which was finally the correct number.

“I explained that I had received independent financial advice and was fully aware of the implications, but still more questions and talk.

“Then they said they would send the forms as long as they were happy with the answers I had given. One of the questions was also ‘do you have less than 12 months to live?’ Absolutely awful I don’t know how much it cost in phone calls.

The Phoenix spokesperson insisted that the service it provides to its customers is “extremely important”.

“We continue to invest in this area to provide the best customer service experience,” they added.

“We deal with legacy products, which can be complex in nature, resulting in a small number of cases taking longer than we would like.”

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