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How useful is the Pensions Ombudsman?

CautiousPaul
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How useful is the Pensions Ombudsman?

#672971

Postby CautiousPaul » July 5th, 2024, 5:38 pm

For over 4 months now, I've been battling with the pension company, Willis Towers Watson(WTW), in an effort to transfer my pension with them to my AJ Bell SIPP. Judging by hundreds of reviews on TrustPilot, see link below, it seems obvious that WTW will use every delaying trick in the book to avoid giving their clients access to their pension benefits. I've submitted an official complaint, which so far doesn't seem to have made any difference and the next step will be to lodge a complaint with the Pensions Ombudsman (PO). My fear now is that the PO will be just as unresponsive as WTW.

Has anybody had a positive experience or otherwise with the Ombudsman ?

[url]https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/www.willistowerswatson.com
[/url]

tacpot12
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Re: How useful is the Pensions Ombudsman?

#672978

Postby tacpot12 » July 5th, 2024, 6:19 pm

I've no direct experience of them, so can't say how quickly they respond, but I've read a number of Pension Ombudsman decisions and they do seem to get into the detail of the arguments and make sensible decisions.

Do WTW claim they have a valid reason for the delay?

Do you have any legal expenses cover as part of your home insurance? If WTW don't have a valid reason (and you have this cover), it might be worth talking to the legal helpline provided by your insurer to see if they can prompt WTW into paying on threat of having to compensate you for their delay.

CautiousPaul
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Re: How useful is the Pensions Ombudsman?

#672983

Postby CautiousPaul » July 5th, 2024, 6:47 pm

I'll have to check my home insurance.

It took them more than 8 weeks to send out their first pension statement, which had issues. While I was waiting, I asked what the delay was and they said it was "due to the complexity of the matter". The matter is not complex. I am obliged to take part of the pension as an annuity. I requested that the remainder (about 80%) of the pension pot be transferred to AJ Bell.

It's worth looking at the TrustPilot reviews. They tell a story! Unfortunately, the link didn't publish as expected.

Thanks for your reply.

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Re: How useful is the Pensions Ombudsman?

#673095

Postby CautiousPaul » July 6th, 2024, 11:11 am

Here is the Trust Pilot link to the WTW reviews:

https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/www.willistowerswatson.com

Well worth a quick look especially if you have a pension managed by them.

Cornytiv34
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Re: How useful is the Pensions Ombudsman?

#673179

Postby Cornytiv34 » July 6th, 2024, 6:03 pm

This inexcusable! There is another approach you could use to obtain competent and prompt action from Willis Towers Watson.

WTW are the management group for Alliance Investment Trust. That are currently in process of a merger with Witan Investment Trust into Alliance Witan Investment Trust. Their information on directors etc obtained from the web is;

Board of directors. Dean Buckley (Chair), Sarah Bates, Josephine Dixon, Clare Dobie, Victoria Hastings, Millard Park.
Fund Managers , Mark Davis, Stuart Gray, Craig Baker.
Management Group. Willis Towers Watson.
Address. 51 Lime Street, London EC3M 7DQ.
Email. investor_relations@willistowerswatson.com
Telephone. +44 0203 124 6000

I am sure they would not like the Trust Pilot or your complaints made public now and they might kick a few backsides to get their group pension department to be sorted out.

Mike

CautiousPaul
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Re: How useful is the Pensions Ombudsman?

#673415

Postby CautiousPaul » July 8th, 2024, 11:47 am

Thanks for your reply, Mike.

The latest outrage is that they have offered me a 2% annuity for my pension pot having previously offered around 5.4% only back in April. I will be making formal complaints with the Pensions Ombudsman and the FCA.

mc2fool
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Re: How useful is the Pensions Ombudsman?

#673454

Postby mc2fool » July 8th, 2024, 2:55 pm

CautiousPaul wrote:For over 4 months now, I've been battling with the pension company, Willis Towers Watson(WTW), in an effort to transfer my pension with them to my AJ Bell SIPP. Judging by hundreds of reviews on TrustPilot, see link below, it seems obvious that WTW will use every delaying trick in the book to avoid giving their clients access to their pension benefits. I've submitted an official complaint, which so far doesn't seem to have made any difference and the next step will be to lodge a complaint with the Pensions Ombudsman (PO).

I've not been to the Pensions Ombudsman, however my experience with financial institutions where a complaint could end up at the FOS (Financial Ombudsman Service) is that usually making a formal complaint to the institution kicks the matter up a level or two and results in some action. I don't know what the PO's penalties are but I know that with the FOS each institution is allowed a small number of complaints for free and after that it's £750 a complaint (irrespective of resolution), which is encouragement for the institution to resolve complaints before they're taken to the FOS.

So, the first thing is to be sure that WTW have registered that you've made a formal complaint and not just an informal one to be handled (or not) by their front line flunkies. I see the Pensions Ombudsman has much the same rules as the FOS in that they require you first to file a formal complaint to the institution and only then and if you get a full and final response from them that you don't like, or eight weeks has passed without a full and final response, will they take up the case.

So, I think it's a good idea to always title your complaint FORMAL COMPLAINT (bolded too ;)), to detail the Complaint and the Remedy (even if that seems obvious from the Complaint) and to finish off with a line that says something to the effect of "I hope to receive your favourable full and final response well before the eight weeks required by the Ombudsman".

If you feel it's already dead obvious that you've made a formal complaint (did you get a complaint reference number from them?), and you're not past eight weeks yet you could try dropping them a message along the lines of the sentence above, in the hope of prompting some action, or if it's already past eight weeks you could say it's past eight weeks but you'll give them another 5 working days before you file with the Ombudsman.

In either case, I would recommend calling the PO and having a chat first, as they may be able to give you some hints on how to approach it to get results from WTW and/or filing a complaint with the PO. https://www.pensions-ombudsman.org.uk/contact-us

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Re: How useful is the Pensions Ombudsman?

#673512

Postby Dicky99 » July 8th, 2024, 11:57 pm

CautiousPaul wrote:For over 4 months now, I've been battling with the pension company, Willis Towers Watson(WTW), in an effort to transfer my pension with them to my AJ Bell SIPP. Judging by hundreds of reviews on TrustPilot, see link below, it seems obvious that WTW will use every delaying trick in the book to avoid giving their clients access to their pension benefits. I've submitted an official complaint, which so far doesn't seem to have made any difference and the next step will be to lodge a complaint with the Pensions Ombudsman (PO). My fear now is that the PO will be just as unresponsive as WTW.

Has anybody had a positive experience or otherwise with the Ombudsman ?

[url]https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/www.willistowerswatson.com
[/url]


Both, so it may depend on who handles your case.

I took out a complaint against my pension provider and I ended up changing from chasing the pension company to chasing the ombudsman instead. She even emailed me asking if there were any updates at one point. After 12 months I emailed her to say you might as well close the case since you've achieved nothing. She didn't reply.

The other experience was submitting an ombudsman complaint for my sister in a dispute with her buildings insurer over a subsidence claim. They were brilliant in that case. Wrapped the insurer over the knuckles, made them meet the whole cost of the claim and awarded £1k compensation which covered the excess.

mc2fool
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Re: How useful is the Pensions Ombudsman?

#673516

Postby mc2fool » July 9th, 2024, 12:30 am

Dicky99 wrote:
CautiousPaul wrote:For over 4 months now, I've been battling with the pension company, Willis Towers Watson(WTW), in an effort to transfer my pension with them to my AJ Bell SIPP. Judging by hundreds of reviews on TrustPilot, see link below, it seems obvious that WTW will use every delaying trick in the book to avoid giving their clients access to their pension benefits. I've submitted an official complaint, which so far doesn't seem to have made any difference and the next step will be to lodge a complaint with the Pensions Ombudsman (PO). My fear now is that the PO will be just as unresponsive as WTW.

Has anybody had a positive experience or otherwise with the Ombudsman ?

[url]https://uk.trustpilot.com/review/www.willistowerswatson.com
[/url]


Both, so it may depend on who handles your case.

I took out a complaint against my pension provider and I ended up changing from chasing the pension company to chasing the ombudsman instead. She even emailed me asking if there were any updates at one point. After 12 months I emailed her to say you might as well close the case since you've achieved nothing. She didn't reply.

The other experience was submitting an ombudsman complaint for my sister in a dispute with her buildings insurer over a subsidence claim. They were brilliant in that case. Wrapped the insurer over the knuckles, made them meet the whole cost of the claim and awarded £1k compensation which covered the excess.

Different ombudsmen. For your pension complaint you'll have gone to The Pension Ombudsman and for the insurance complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service. They're separate outfits.

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Re: How useful is the Pensions Ombudsman?

#673521

Postby NearlyThere » July 9th, 2024, 6:10 am

CautiousPaul wrote:For over 4 months now, I've been battling with the pension company, Willis Towers Watson(WTW), in an effort to transfer my pension with them to my AJ Bell SIPP. Judging by hundreds of reviews on TrustPilot, see link below, it seems obvious that WTW will use every delaying trick in the book to avoid giving their clients access to their pension benefits. I've submitted an official complaint, which so far doesn't seem to have made any difference and the next step will be to lodge a complaint with the Pensions Ombudsman (PO). My fear now is that the PO will be just as unresponsive as WTW.

Has anybody had a positive experience or otherwise with the Ombudsman ?


I transferred a pension pot from WTW to Interactive Investor back in 2021. I had to chase them up a couple of times, and found that copying in my previous employers* pension team seemed to help in getting things moving. May be another thing to try?

*A large pharma who did a lot of business with WTW

Neil

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Re: How useful is the Pensions Ombudsman?

#673542

Postby DrFfybes » July 9th, 2024, 8:37 am

NearlyThere wrote:I transferred a pension pot from WTW to Interactive Investor back in 2021. I had to chase them up a couple of times, and found that copying in my previous employers* pension team seemed to help in getting things moving. May be another thing to try?

*A large pharma who did a lot of business with WTW

Neil


Yeah - they took ages with my old AstraZeneca/Syngenta pension as well :(

Not helped that of the 15 or so pages of forms they sent, some were meant to go back to them, and some to ii, but nowhere did it explain properly which went where, and they never forwarded them on. ii kept requesting a certain form, but WTW had called it something else, took a few phonecalls to sort it out.

Paul

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Re: How useful is the Pensions Ombudsman?

#673556

Postby CautiousPaul » July 9th, 2024, 9:02 am

So far I have submitted a formal complaint to WTW, which they have acknowledged in an email but there is no reference number. The next steps are as follows, assuming no progress (a very likely outcome) :

1. Submit a complaint to the Pensions Ombudsman (PO)
2. Submit a complaint to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
3. Contact my local MP if the PO does nothing useful

I'll also try to get the email addresses of my old employer's pension trustees and pension team.

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Re: How useful is the Pensions Ombudsman?

#673560

Postby pochisoldi » July 9th, 2024, 9:41 am

I had trouble getting a proper unit transaction statement from one provider, and the threat of going to the pensions ombudsman focused their minds into getting the matter sorted. (No compensation paid, wasn't asked for, just wanted them to give me what I wanted, and have half a chance of getting them to provide the info within a week in the following years).

Not sure how much of a threat it would be to a truly lazy/intransigent provider, especially if you've entered the "compensation definitely due" zone.

PochiSoldi

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Re: How useful is the Pensions Ombudsman?

#673577

Postby mc2fool » July 9th, 2024, 11:27 am

CautiousPaul wrote:So far I have submitted a formal complaint to WTW, which they have acknowledged in an email but there is no reference number. The next steps are as follows, assuming no progress (a very likely outcome) :

1. Submit a complaint to the Pensions Ombudsman (PO)
2. Submit a complaint to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
3. Contact my local MP if the PO does nothing useful

I'll also try to get the email addresses of my old employer's pension trustees and pension team.

You can't complain to the FCA, they only consider complaints about the regulators.

"The regulators cannot consider complaints about the firms we regulate. If you have a complaint about a firm, then you should raise this initially with the firm. If you remain unhappy with the outcome, you may be able to make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service." https://www.fca.org.uk/about/how-we-operate/complain-about-regulators

"If you feel like you’ve been treated unfairly by a financial business, or if you’re unhappy with a financial service, you have the right to complain.

While complaining can feel daunting, our rules mean that firms must deal with your complaint fairly, consistently and promptly. And if you’re unhappy with their response, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
" https://www.fca.org.uk/consumers/how-complain

Interestingly, while the Pensions Ombudsman would seem the obvious choice for complaints about pensions, the FOS will also consider complaints about them.

See https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/consumers/complaints-can-help/pensions-annuities and if it's not clear which of the two you should go to then give them a call. While on a superficial look I can't see anything that precludes it, I'd also ask if it'd be OK to submit the complaint to both Ombudsmen or if you'd be required to just go with one or the other.

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Re: How useful is the Pensions Ombudsman?

#673751

Postby CautiousPaul » July 10th, 2024, 9:31 am

Thanks for all of that, mc. I spoke to the Money Helper service on Monday and it was them that suggested making a complaint with the FCA. I think they must have meant the Financial Ombudsman. I may well end up making a complaint with the FCA about the PO if they don't help me.

Looking at the Trustpilot site again, it's disturbing to see that the issues with Willis Towers Watson go back more than 4 years, which suggests to me that the PO hasn't been doing its job.

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Re: How useful is the Pensions Ombudsman?

#674000

Postby Seasider » July 11th, 2024, 2:49 pm

Is WTW administering your old employer's pension scheme? If so then you may need to go through the scheme's internal dispute resolution process before you go to the PO.

BTW I don't think you can complain to the FCA about the PO.

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Re: How useful is the Pensions Ombudsman?

#674040

Postby CautiousPaul » July 11th, 2024, 7:40 pm

Seasider wrote:Is WTW administering your old employer's pension scheme? If so then you may need to go through the scheme's internal dispute resolution process before you go to the PO.

BTW I don't think you can complain to the FCA about the PO.


Yes, WTW are administering my old employer's pension scheme. I have submitted a Formal complaint with them and have to give them 8 weeks to respond. After that I can complain to the Pensions Ombudsman (PO). I was advised to take it up with my local MP if the PO are no help.


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