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Aviva tops ombudsman complaints for life and pensions

Phoenix Life and Prudential also high on investors’ hitlist during first half of 2019


The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) received 1,765 complaints about firms offering services in the life, pension and decumulations sector during the first half of 2019.

This is a fall of nearly 8% from the same period last year, when there were 1,917 complaints.

Fewer complaints were also made about investments, with 1,532 recorded in H1 2019 compared with 2,092 in H1 2018 – a drop of 28.6%.

Life, pensions and decumulation

Aviva Life & Pensions UK received the most complaints in the life, pensions and decumulation at 355, which was a rise from 291 in the first half of 2018

This was followed by Phoenix Life (242), which also suffered a rise in complaints, having received 161 in H1 2018.

In contrast, the Prudential Assurance Company (164) received 89 fewer complaints than the same period last year.

St James’s Place and Sesame had smaller numbers of complaints about their respective life and pensions services, both received 25.

Company Complaints in Life, Pensions and Decumulation Sector in H1 2019 Complaints in Life, Pensions and Decumulation Sector in H1 2018
Aviva Life & Pensions UK 355 291
Phoenix Life 242 161
Prudential Assurance 164 253
Royal London 118 101
Scottish Widows 113 77


A spokesperson for Aviva said the firm “takes complaints about its customer service very seriously and we are committed to providing an excellent service for all our customers”.

“Where we fail to meet customers’ expectations our first priority is to resolve the matter as quickly as possible and to act on the feedback we receive.

“Although we aim for no complaints, ones we get represent just 1.6 per life 1,000 policies in the UK.”

A spokesperson for Phoenix also said that it “has a complex suite of legacy products and we continue to focus on improving outcomes for our customers”.

“Ensuring customers receive the right outcomes from their complaints is the most important complaints measure to us and our latest FOS overturn rate was 15% for complaints in the life, pensions and decumulation category, which was well below the average for our industry of 22%.”


The majority of the investment complaints made to the FOS concerned banking groups.

But Aviva Life & Pensions UK had the dubious honour of also appearing high up on the investment grievances list. The FOS received 124 about the company during H1 2019, a rise from 97 complaints made about it in the same period in 2018.

Aegon’s investment platform Cofunds had 102 complaints. This comes after both financial services giants struggled with replatforming issues over the past year.

Advice firms Sesame and St James’s Place received 13 and 32, respectively.

Company Complaints in Investments Sector in H1 2019 Complaints in Investments Sector in H1 2018
Aviva Life & Pensions UK 124 97
Cofunds (Aegon) 102 N/A
Prudential Assurance 52 46
Royal London 42 38
Legal & General 35 44

Prudential and Aegon declined to comment on the FOS data. Phoenix Life and Royal London did not reply in time for publication.

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