Money Grouse: Battle for pension statements

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SUN LIFE of Canada has upset one of its policyholders by not giving enough information about the progress of his pension policies.

E Ng Cheng Hin from South London complains: 'I have three pension plans with Sun Life of Canada. In the past few years I have been trying to ensure that they send me an annual statement. Out of the three, I receive a statement annually for one plan only. For the other two I have had to make a request.

'I wrote to the company on 27 March 1993 requesting a statement for each. To my annoyance and frustration, I received only one out of the two requested.'

If investors' rights to information on their personal pension plans are being overlooked, it is hardly surprising judging by the response of various regulators to our request for an explanation of exactly what those rights are.

Neither the Investment Management Regulatory Organisation nor the Securities and Investments Board were able to give a full explanation. The Life Assurance and Unit Trust Regulatory Organisation said this was not its area of responsibility. One regulator referred us to the Department of Social Security but 48 hours after our inquiry it had not returned the call.

We turned to Andrew Warwick- Thompson, a pensions lawyer with actuary Bacon & Woodrow, who said pension providers were obliged under pensions legislation to send annual statements automatically on contributions made in the past 12 months.

Sun Life of Canada said it had sent a statement to Mr Cheng Hin and could not understand why it had not arrived. But the company added: 'We have around 100,000 personal pension schemes on our books. Although our administration of these schemes has been efficient, we have had some difficulties with the automatic production of annual statements as required by the Personal Pension Schemes (Disclosure of Information) Regulations 1987 in a minority of cases.

'We are now confident that these problems have been resolved and for the vast majority of clients, unit statements are being produced automatically on a timely basis.

'In certain cases . . . some further work remains to be done. We have been addressing this matter as a high priority. Mr Cheng Hin can be assured that no further problems will arise.'

Write to Money Grouse, The Independent, 40 City Road, London EC1Y 2DB. Include a daytime telephone number if possible. Please do not send SAEs or original documents as we cannot guarantee to deal with every letter individually.

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