Pru system error causes lengthy delay to client’s pension withdrawal

Sophie King reports...

Prudential has frustrated a financial adviser and his client after the life giant revealed it would take two months to process a pension withdrawal because of system issues, RP’s sister publication Professional Adviser has been told.

Financial adviser Joseph Bacon – who preferred not to reveal the name of his firm – told PA a client of his holds a pension in the Prudential Flexible Retirement Plan, which was discontinued a couple of years ago.

The client requested to take money out, which she said she needed as soon as possible. Bacon said he rang Prudential last Tuesday (15 October) to request the form to withdraw money, only to be told it would take some time to receive it.

According to Bacon, Prudential cited “system issues for which they are unable to provide forms for clients to withdraw monies from their pensions for over four weeks.”

The also told him: “We are expecting it around the middle of November, which will have been just over a month since requesting it.”

Bacon and his client will then have to wait again once the form has been signed by the client and sent back to Prudential in order to complete the transfer. That process is expected to extend the waiting time to around two months before the client receives her money.

Bacon said he originally expected to be able to download the form from the internet so it could be signed by the client and sent to Prudential immediately. Then for the actual payment process, even ten working days is long enough, he said, adding: “Over two months is absolutely ridiculous.

“I can understand not everything can be done straight away but it really isn’t on, particularly for the clients. They’re withdrawing money for a reason – they can’t really wait that long.”

He said the wait was “not acceptable in this day and age” and when this was flagged with Prudential, its response was “well, it is what it is”.

Bacon said Prudential advised they could instead transfer the monies to the company’s retirement account, which does not have a long wait time to get funds. “We don’t want to change contracts and we shouldn’t have to just to get a decent level of service from the same provider.”

‘Déjà vu’

The adviser said he had a similar case just one month ago, but presumed it was a one-off.

Despite the client having now received the payment, Bacon said they had to “jump up and down” to get it. He said the adviser dealing with the case spent a huge amount of time trying to get Prudential to help.

A spokesperson from Prudential said: “We are in the process of significantly investing in the digital transformation of our business to provide an improved service and greater flexibility for advisers and their clients.

“While we are doing this, we are working hard to minimise any potential impact to timescales and we’re prioritising customer payments.”

They apologised for any delay this adviser and his clients have experienced.

“Without specific details, it’s difficult for us to comment on individual cases,” they added, “we’d urge the adviser to get back in touch with us to discuss these cases further.”