Client: The Savings and Long Term Risk (SALTR) project of the
Association of British Insurers (ABI)
PR Team: Fishburn Hedges, aided by the SALTR project team and the ABI's
Campaign: Planning and launch of new industry standards scheme
Timescale: May 1999 to October 2000
Described as an 'ambitious scheme to raise customer confidence and
improve ser-vice standards in the pensions industry', the Association of
British Insurers launched its voluntary code of practice on October
Its Raising Standards quality mark seeks to restore confidence after a
decade of growing mistrust following pensions swindles, under-performing
policies such as endowments, and widespread mismanagement.
Customers can now differentiate between those companies which have
minimum service standards set by the ABI and those which have not.
The code, part of an extensive drive to repair shattered consumer
confidence, has been two years in the planning, and Fishburn Hedges has
been involved from the consulting stage, up to the launch.
To take collective action to improve the pension industry's reputation
with consumer groups, government and the newly-formed regulator and the
FSA (Financial Services Authority).
To create a more confident business climate to encourage sceptical
consumers to save more for their future.
Strategy and Plan
Fishburn Hedges, the SALTR project team and the ABI put together a
programme to create the scheme and communicate it effectively to the
industry, IFAs, government, the FSA, consumer groups and the media.
The Raising Standards scheme was therefore created.
Brands in the pensions, protection and investments market would apply
for a quality mark from an independent body that would ensure that they
had met demanding standards.
The three main areas covered are: clarity and comparability of
information, appropriateness of product purchased, and customer
During the standard's development, qualitative and quantitative consumer
research was undertaken through BMRB to check that it would reassure
consumers, and that they would make a difference to buying decisions.
Results were des-cribed as 'extremely positive'.
In October 2000, prior to the launch event, BMRB undertook additional
consumer research to establish a benchmark for current perceptions of
the industry and the level of consumers' confidence in life, pensions
and investment products and companies.
Measurement and Evaluation
This research will be repeated 'at least annually' so that changes in
perception caused by the scheme can be measured and fully evaluated.
It will take companies and brands a year to prepare to meet the
challenging stand-ards. The first brands will be awarded the quality
mark in autumn 2001.
By the day of the launch, 41 financial services brands - including the
Prudential, Scottish Widows, Abbey National and Halifax - had committed
publicly to seek accreditation.
These brands represent nearly 80 per cent of the life and pensions
market. Statements of support were received from HM Treasury, the DTi,
the FSA and a range of industry bodies.
The launch event generated substantial national press, trade and
Relations with government, the FSA and with some of the consumer groups
that have been critical of the industry are improving, and the leaders
of the life and pensions sector feel that the industry is now winning
The media, while remaining sceptical, has shown it is willing to see if
the scheme can deliver expected benefits to consumers.