CAMPAIGNS: Financial PR - ABI standard for pensions industry

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

in-house team

Campaign: Planning and launch of new industry standards scheme

Timescale: May 1999 to October 2000

Budget: Undisclosed

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

broadcast coverage.


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

back credibiltiy.

The media, while remaining sceptical, has shown it is willing to see if

the scheme can deliver expected benefits to consumers.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in