Brokers lose patience with Scottish Widows

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SCOTTISH WIDOWS, the large mutual life office, displays a 'could not care less' attitude towards providing an efficient service to the brokers that supply its business, the personal finance arm of a firm of consulting actuaries has alleged.

The criticism reflects the difficulties consultants face when making routine changes to their clients' Scottish Widows pension schemes. In a letter to the life office, the managing director of the personal finance arm wrote: 'Without exception, Scottish Widows was named as the worst servicing office, much of which appears to stem from a 'could not care less attitude' which is now deep rooted in the society.'

Similar views are expressed by other brokers. Widows admits it has problems, particularly in pensions. It is trying to make improvements by introducing a new computer system. Alasdair Buchanan, marketing manager, said this has meant taking some of the better- quality staff off normal duties to develop and test the new system.

Mr Buchanan added: 'We are not comfortable with the quality of service. Certainly in specific areas it falls far short of the standards that we set ourselves.' Last autumn, Widows failed to meet its 10-day target for producing benefit quotations on 46 per cent of its small group pension schemes.

One senior financial adviser said last week: 'We've had a lot of hot air in the past. I think they've a deep need for a cultural change which says service is important.'