ABI sets out changes for annuities market

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has announced a plan to ensure people get more help to achieve better outcomes when they turn their pension savings into a retirement income.

Thoresen-Otto-ABI-2013

The plan, which acts on challenges set out in a report from the Financial Conduct Authority on annuities, will be implemented over the next 18 months, with completion targeted for summer 2015.

It commits pension providers to:

  • A conversation for retirees with their pension provider or an impartial advice or guidance service about their retirement options. This conversation will include a high-level overview of alternatives to annuities as people approach retirement.
  • A comparison of annuity quotes, whereby all providers will offer a comparison, or introduction to an intermediary who will deliver the comparison, early and prominently in their retirement process. The comparison will be offered as an integral part of the process not as an optional extra. 
  • Ask all customers for information about their health and lifestyle, which they can use to shop around for an enhanced rate.

Otto Thoresen (pictured), director general of the ABI, said: “The announcement today further builds on the [code of conduct on retirement choices] and seeks to ensure the retirement income market is meeting the needs of customers with pension pots of all sizes.

“It is critical to make sure savers have all the appropriate information they need easily to hand to make the best possible choice at retirement. This means changing the retirement process so that shopping around and providing medical information is built into it.

“Providers will also monitor data on the proportion of customers who take up the offer of a conversation or comparison and those who don’t, and how outcomes vary for these customers.

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“If people have small pension pots, the issue isn’t just about choice of annuity, but whether they should annuitise at all. The industry is urging the government to simplify and relax the rules, which state how much money people can take in cash when they come to retire with a small savings pot.

“The ABI is now working with its members to develop the detail of these changes and their implementation and expect to publish this in the coming months.”