• Coronavirus servicing update - Updated 03 June 2020

    We appreciate your patience during these exceptional times. We're following government advice on home working to look after our people so they can continue to give you the best possible service. We are sorry that if despite these efforts you experience longer waiting times when trying to call us.

    Please be assured that we're working within our normal service levels for postal services, which includes items of post which we are sending out to customers and for processing items of post that we receive. We will continue to update this webpage as things change by adding useful messages and articles that will keep you informed and safe during the current period.
  • Last updated 01 June 2020

    The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) with other pensions bodies have published an easy-to-read guide. It explains measures taken to support savers, answers many frequently asked questions, and provides details on the free and impartial guidance that is available. It is a comprehensive tool for anyone wanting to understand how their pension savings are protected and supported at this moment in time and provides information on how to protect yourself against pension scams.

    The guide is available here.

    Coronavirus (COVID-19) – financial impacts and sources of financial support

    The impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on investment markets around the world is naturally a concern for investors as it has led to an increase in volatility and sudden market falls. Many people are inevitably concerned about the value of their investments and the financial uncertainty which this brings, and are looking for further information and support.

    Some of our customers have contacted us to see whether the value of their investment has been affected or to discuss if there are any options for safeguarding their financial position. Some have been considering taking money from their policy due to the current performance of the markets or switching their funds to another investment fund which is less volatile.

    It’s vital to make fully informed decisions; therefore before making any changes to your policy, we’re asking all of our customers to ensure they consider these three important things:

    1. As you know, your savings with us are a long term investment to provide for your future. Making decisions about your policy based on short term events and circumstances can have long term consequences for your financial wellbeing and retirement.
    2. You should consider carefully if now’s the right time to take money out of your policy. You will receive only the current value of your investments which might have fallen recently; you may miss out on any future increases in value if the markets recover. We recommend that you seek financial advice before making any changes. For pension policies you can also contact Pension Wise for further help and guidance.
    3. Consider carefully whether you need all the money you’re thinking of taking out of your policy at the current time. Once you have taken your savings, you will have less money available to generate the income you may need in later life.

    Sources of financial support

    If you’re thinking of accessing your pension savings, making a withdrawal, or wish to surrender your investment policy because of financial difficulties, please ensure you fully consider the implications before doing so. We have provided some useful information below where you can find a range of impartial support networks that can help you. We strongly recommend you investigate the support networks available before making any decisions in relation to ceasing or taking withdrawals from your policy.

    • The Money Advice Service has compiled a comprehensive guide to the financial support available such as:
      • Benefits from the government to help with unemployment or sickness
      • Holidays from regular payments to your bank or lending provider
      • Relief if you are self-employed or own a small business
      • It also has a useful debt advice locator tool to help find free debt advice

    Please visit the Money Advice Service website which provides extremely useful information that can help you. There is also a useful tool that can be found here which enables you to see the places where you can gain further debt based help, guidance and advice if you need it.

    • Citizens Advice - If you prefer to talk, you can call Citizens Advice about financial support and debts on 03444 111 444. They also have useful information on their webpage that can be accessed here.
    • The Pensions Advisory Service also offers help and guidance which can be obtained from their website here   
    • Financial advice - We strongly recommend that you contact the support organisations shown above and obtain financial advice before making any decisions about changing your policy. If you don’t have a financial adviser, you can find one in your local area by visiting Unbiased. Alternately visit our getting financial advice webpage to find out how you might benefit from using a financial adviser and how to find one local to where you live.

    We realise these are worrying times for many of our customers and that some people may find themselves in an economically vulnerable position which prompts unexpected expenses or a reduced level of income. We will continue to support our customers and provide you with additional information to help at this difficult time.

    Our response to Covid-19 from Andy Briggs, Chief Executive

    In these truly extraordinary times, Phoenix Group is taking significant steps to support and protect its colleagues, customers and the communities where we operate. Led by our senior leadership team, we are using our established business continuity framework to manage our response.

    For our customers, we have done our utmost to continue to deliver our services during these strained times. With our customer service teams now working from home and continuing to answer enquiries, close to normal levels of service have been maintained and we continue to see a very positive customer response, with the vast majority of our customers rating our service ‘good’ or ‘excellent’.

    Inevitably a number of our customers are in the high-risk category through age or illness. We continue to provide a phone service, and to ensure our lines remain available to our most vulnerable customers, we are encouraging those who can to use our website wherever possible.

    To help support customers working for the NHS, we are establishing a priority service if they need to contact us, through dedicated secure messaging and an out-of-hours call-back service.

    Importantly, both online and through our direct customer communications, we are raising awareness of the increased threat our customers may face from scams in the uncertain times the pandemic creates.

    At the forefront of our minds is the wellbeing and safety of all of our colleagues. We acted quickly to mobilise our colleagues and enable them to work from home. We have supplied around 4,500 individual pieces of IT kit (such as keyboards and cables) to make this possible. With the exception of employees carrying out critical processes at our sites (c.1% that are all socially distanced), all of our c.4,400 employees are set up to work from home other than a small number that cannot fulfil their role from home. None of our people have been furloughed as a result of Covid-19. This has been the biggest logistics exercise we have ever undertaken.

    In this challenging time we recognised that our colleagues may need to take time off to care for loved ones. We have provided paid emergency leave for those caring for people during the Covid-19 crisis.

    We are extremely thankful to our colleagues and partners for the dedication and spirit they have shown throughout this time.

    We, like many, are in awe of the excellent work undertaken by key workers and front-line staff, who are serving our communities. As a small measure of our gratitude we are donating £1 million to be split between, Age UK and charities supporting the communities local to our offices across the UK and Europe. These charities, especially some of the smaller ones, are dealing with unprecedented demand for their services when finances may be stretched, and we are delighted to support them.

    Recognising the critical role the Air Ambulances play in the NHS, we have also extended our support for our four existing Air Ambulance Charity partners across the UK.

    We will also continue to provide support through investment in socially responsible community assets. In 2020 to date we have provided £70m in lending to Local Authorities, £75m to Housing Associations, and £30m to a renewable energy project. We are actively looking for opportunities to support similar projects.

    As we all look towards a time when we can return to normality, I am heartened by the depth of community and determination my colleagues have shown in this trying time. The small gestures and extra hours have really revealed how we are prepared to go above and beyond in order to maintain the services so relied upon. It demonstrates our steadfast approach to delivering for our customers when they need it the most.

     

    Andy Briggs

    CEO Phoenix Group

    As at 17 April 2020

    Scams related to the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic have escalated in recent weeks with criminals trying a variety of different tactics through texts, email and phone calls to defraud members of the public by exploiting fears and anxieties as people self-isolate.

    The UK's national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, Action Fraud has received thousands of reports about Coronavirus (Covid-19) themed scams including cold calls and phishing emails. Criminals are preying on people isolated from their family and friends to trick them into revealing sensitive personal and financial information. One of the recent scam emails pretends to come from HM Government asking for donations to help the NHS treat people affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Action Fraud has warned the public to be on their guard and that any money sent will end up in the hands of criminals, not the NHS.

    Three steps to protect yourself from scams

    Step one - Stop!

    Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or personal information. Always be suspicious and on your guard to keep yourself safe and protect yourself from scammers.

    Step two - Challenge

    Ask yourself - could this be fake? It's ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests your receive. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you, and something which sounds to good to be true, probably is.

    Step three - Protect

    If you think you have been the victim of a scam on the policy you hold with us contact Phoenix Wealth using the contact details on our contact page. It's important to notify your bank and report scams to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting Report to Action Fraud.

    Scams to watch out for

    • Scammers may cold call you claiming to represent Phoenix Wealth. Cold calls on pensions are illegal. For any calls that come out of the blue asking you to do something or give your personal information, simply end the call and contact Phoenix Wealth using the contact details on our contact page. Criminals are looking to make money by switching your policies or selling your personal information to other criminals.
    • As people self-isolate at home there is an increasing risk that telephone, texts and WhatsApp scams will also rise, including criminals claiming to be a bank, mortgage lender, utility company, NHS or government department where criminals are trying to obtain personal data to sell on or gain access to your money.
    • Using market volatility around stock markets, scammers may advise transferring your investments or pensions or offering a 'free' pension review. Remember cold calls on pensions are illegal.
    • Promoting investment opportunities with guaranteed returns. These are typically unusual and unregulated investments such as property development, hotel rooms, storage units or car parking lots and can be based in the UK and abroad.
    • Offers to 'unlock' cash held in pensions. As people face financial difficulties this may sound attractive, but under 55, customers cannot normally access funds without being impacted by severe financial penalties.
    • Email scams that trick people into opening malicious attachments. These scams put people at risk of identity theft with personal information, passwords, contacts and bank details stolen. Some emails lure people to click on attachments by offering information about people in the local area who are affected by Covid-19.
    • Fake online resources, such as false Covid-19 maps that deliver malware such as AZORult Trojan, an information stealing program which can  infiltrate sensitive data. A recent example that has deployed malware is 'corona-virus-map[dot]com'.

    Security tips to protect yourself

    • Never share your financial or personal information to a cold caller, in response to an email or via a text.
    • Check who you are dealing with. If you receive a call, get as much information as you can about the caller and the company's background; try searching the internet, but be wary of 'flashy' websites. All regulated financial advisers should be registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) ( https://register.fca.org.uk)
    • If you have been asked to transfer your pension from Phoenix Wealth check the FCA's warning list FCA Scamsmart Warning list ( https://www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart/warning-list) or phone the FCA consumer helpline on 0800 111 6768 to check a person is permitted to give pension advice. Cold calling about pensions is illegal. Remember to contact us as we can take steps to check the organisation with HMRC to make sure it's legitimate.
    • Take your time. Never be rushed, pressured or harassed into making a decision about your pension. Make all the checks you need - even if this means turning down what seems to be an 'amazing' deal.
    • If you are unsure about an offer you have received or if something doesn't sound right, contact The Pension Advisory Service (TPAS) ( https://www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk) which provides free independent and impartial information and guidance. Pension Wise ( https://www.pensionwise.gov.uk/en) provides free pension guidance for anyone over 50 years of age with a personal or workplace pension.

    For more information on Covid-19 scams and fraud visit these websites:

    Friends Against Scams

    National Crime Agency

    National Trading Standards

    Financial Conduct Authority

    Action Fraud

    Europol

  • If you're registered to use our online services (non self-invested only)

    Most of our customers find it's quick and easy to get the answers to their questions online. Some of the key things you may be able to do online, depending on your policy, include:

    • Finding out how much your investments are worth
    • Checking your contributions and income payments
    • Viewing the funds you're invested in
    • Getting fund factsheets, and
    • Switching and redirecting your pension choices (not available for Investment bonds)

    For more about our online services, please visit our online services page.

  • You can still get in touch

    You can still email us or send a secure message by visiting our contact us page.

    Our telephone lines are still open. Before calling, please consider if your call is urgent to help the most vulnerable customers who need to speak to us.

    Coronavirus - navigating investment uncertainty

    We recognise that market falls caused by the Covid-19 pandemic are understandably unsettling and may be causing you some concern about the performance of your pension or investment. It can be worrying to see your investments fall in value, especially in these unprecedented times.

    Whilst there's such uncertainty in the markets, it's reassuring to know that the fundamental principles of investment remains the same: get financial advice and focus on the long term.

    Although we can't give you advice on what to do, here are some of the things you might want to consider.

    Staying the course - long term is key

    It's likely that the coronavirus will continue to have an impact on markets over the coming months. But it's also important to remember that, ups and downs are part and parcel of investing.

    The key thing to remember is that investing is a long-term commitment. Investing with a long-term outlook and with long-term goals is the best way to reduce the impact of stock market fluctuations and see out periods of volatility.

    There have been many times in the past when major global events have caused markets to fall, particularly in the short-term. A look back at historical performance of share markets shows that eventually markets do recover over time. It's uncertain when this might happen, but even when you consider events like, for example, the Dot.com crash and the Global Financial Crisis - a long term investment strategy can provide an attractive opportunity for growth.

    Remember though that investment growth isn't guaranteed - investments can fall in value too. And it's possible to get back less than you paid in.

    Managing your investments

    Why not take a look at our 'Managing your investments' page? You'll find useful information on some of the key things to consider, particularly the closer you get to retirement.

    It takes a look at:

    • managing investment risk as you approach retirement
    • the types of risks to look out for
    • how to get financial advice
    • how you can keep an eye on your investments

    Find out more here.

    Financial advice can help

    At turbulent times like this, the skills and experience of financial advisers can really help. If you're unsure how the outbreak of Coronavirus is affecting your investments, or whether you should take action, please speak to a financial adviser. If you don't have an adviser, you can find out how you might benefit from using one, and how to find one local to where you live.