SIPP godfather John Moret in the city’s pension sector for over half a century
Square Mile insider John Moret is often referred to as Mr. SIPP, or SIPP’s godfather, for his work in developing the self-invested private bond market. John Moret is one of the most influential figures in the UK pension industry.
He is currently chairman of the consulting firm Intelligent Pensions and the non-executive director of Gaud, a fast growing SIPP company. However, his real passion is running a small, non-executive customer experience company called Investor in Customers (IIC).
IIC has a growing presence in the financial services market and clients include AXA, Northern Trust, Ardonagh Group, LGIM and Barnet Waddingham, as well as leading trade associations PIMFA, TISA and CSA.
In an exclusive interview with City AM‘s Michiel Willems explains to John Moret why the customer experience is so important to him, the latest FCA proposals on consumer obligations that will affect all regulated financial services companies, and why he would like to see the SIPP label removed.
First, let’s take a closer look at the latest FCA proposals. They believe that measurement of customer experience is relevant to the watchdog’s suggestions on consumer liability. Why is that?
In its consultation paper, the FCA proposes that all regulated companies are obliged in future to take all reasonable steps to avoid causing foreseeable harm to consumers, to enable customers to pursue their financial goals and to act in good faith. Four specific outcomes are suggested as key elements of the relationship: communication, products and services, customer service, and price and value.
So far there are no clear guidelines on how the FCA would like to rate or measure these results, but the customer experience will obviously be a key element.
What do you think of these proposals?
I welcome them in principle. Delays in processing pension transfer payments are all too common. Investment fraud has become an integral part. Consumers have been bombarded with meaningless pages of paper purportedly to help them understand the value of their pensions and their longevity.
“For far too long, many providers in the annuity industry have paid lip service to customer results.”
The inadequacies in advice and guidance for those who take advantage of lost income are very worrying. The industry is shockingly slow to adopt new technology, although some of the newer “fintech” retail retirement providers are trying to change that and gain a competitive advantage.
How Concerned Should Regulated Firms Be About the FCA’s Consumer Obligation Proposals?
All regulated companies in the financial services market should listen to feedback from the FCA on the consultation paper promised by the end of the year. They want to implement their proposals by the end of July 2022. So there are only 7 months left to review the four customer results and consider how to measure them and prove their performance. This is where customer insight will be so important. But it’s not just about meeting regulatory requirements. Our experience shows that improving the customer experience ultimately leads to competitive advantage and profitability.
Since you are Mr SIPP, I would be remiss not to ask how optimistic you are about the future of SIPPs.
The market has grown to nearly Â£ 500 billion in funds invested on behalf of nearly 3 million investors. However, this growth was not without pain. The consequences of the pension simplification in 2006 and the pension exemptions in 2015 resulted in many SIPP investors losing some or all of their investments. This pain has also resulted in a number of consulting firms taking to the wall along with several SIPP companies.
I think the SIPP label is now misleading, many SIPP investors are hardly or not at all involved in investment decisions and a growing number of SIPP providers are nothing more than glorified “private provision” providers who offer a limited range of investments.
“I’ve been a huge supporter since the day Nigel Lawson announced the introduction of SIPPs in March 1989.”
SIPPs have also been used by many scammers and we have to be very careful that investors who manage their own investments for ESG reasons do not lead to yet another bond scandal.
While I’m optimistic about the SIPP market, I wonder if it’s time to get rid of the SIPP label and move back to a new and more appropriate title like an Individual Retirement Account (ISA)! A name that immediately focuses on the customer rather than the financial methodology.
Finally, let’s zoom in on your Investor in Customer business for insights into the customer experience. When did you get involved for the first time?
That was 15 years ago. At the time I was working at Suffolk Life (now part of Curtis Banks), a leading provider of SIPPs, and commissioned the first IIC assessment. I was so impressed that I became a shareholder and was invited as a non-executive chair in 2009. It is generally accepted that financial services could do better when dealing with customers. But few companies deal with them and therefore don’t really know how they think and feel.
âWhat exactly do you mean when you talk about customer experience? It is often confused with customer service. “
It is also important that it is not just the end customer’s point of view, but that of the employees and customers. Comparing different views and identifying gaps between what the executive team thinks of what they do and what customers think they are getting provides a true picture and can transform the business.