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Advisers link up to press for Options action

Advisers have rallied together to demand that providers that have failed to implement or sign up to the Association of British Insurers’ pension transfer initiative, get on board as soon as possible.

In an open letter, leading retirement advisers, including Annuity Direct director Stuart Bayliss and William Burrows Annuities director Billy Burrows, complain that some providers are still taking months to transfer pension pots, meaning customers continue to lose out.

The advisers are particularly concerned that companies with very large pension books have not yet signed up to the initiative which started in December.

They say: “We strongly urge those who have not yet signed up to do so as soon as possible and ensure their customers are not disadvantaged by their non-engagement.”

Windsor Life has yet to sign up despite being criticised by advisers on several occasions in Money Marketing for its transfer times.

Royal London has also not signed up. Zurich and Scottish Widows are among the 16 providers involved in the scheme but have not yet gone live.

Zurich says it expects to be up and running by the third quarter. Scottish Widows would not set a date but admitted Options was “not a priority” for the firm.

Providers using Options reported an average processing time of eight calendar days for the first quarter which has come down from an average of 51 days.

Windsor Life managing director Jonathan Yates says: “We are considering whether to join Options. It has always been our intention to monitor the implementation of the system until more evidence is available on its performance and benefits to customers. A final decision will be made in due course.”

A Scottish Life spokesman says: “We are very supportive of the principles behind the ABI’s Options’ initiative and we have participated in the working group. The reason we did not sign up to the first phase was it made a lot more sense for us to plan for a single project, covering both phases, Omos and transfers, than to run two separate projects.”

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