Portrait drawing of Society of Friends founder...

George Fox, founder of The Society of Friends


Some years ago, I took out an AVC (Additional Voluntary Contributions scheme) to top up my pension. I wanted to save with an ethical fund and opted for Friends’ Provident. Friends’ Provident had its origins in the Quaker movement (The Society of Friends) and was, at the time, a mutual society. Since then, it has demutualised and changed its name to Friends Life and the quality of its products and services has deteriorated beyond recognition.

English: Friends Provident Building, South Par...

Friends Provident Building, South Parade, Leeds (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Key features of their service have included:

  • not moving savings into a more secure form when asked to do so
  • telling me that they had written to my employer about non-payment (I don’t have an employer and I told them this when I first became unemployed)
  • admitting (when challenged) that they hadn’t written to my (non-existent employer)
  • telling me that if I didn’t carry on paying in, my savings might be eaten up by administration charges
  • when I finally lodged a complaint about these veiled threats, admitting that they hadn’t carried out my initial instructions

At this point  I was advised to move my savings out the hands of Friends Life as soon as possible.

What really annoys me is that they are still trading on the widely respected name of The Society of Friends, whilst appearing to be well on the way to trashing the mutual and ethical values on which Friends’ Provident was established.

Headquarters of Friends Provident 100 Wood Str...

Headquarters of Friends Provident (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

then today I got an email about a man called Nic Hughes and his experience with Friends Provident. Nic Hughes did the right thing and took out life insurance to protect his family if anything happened to him. Nic’s dead, but the insurers (our old friends Friends Life) aren’t paying out. I’m not a great signer of online petitions, but this is one has the ring of truth.

Petition: “Pay out Nic Hughes’ critical illness policy”
The Guardian : background article