The Annuity Bureau is accusing product providers of unacceptable and costly delays in producing pension fund data and payments which it says is costing annuitants lost income and lower annuity rates.
The company has pointed to Abbey Life, Barclays, Pearl, Royal London and Windsor Life, saying their poor back-up is costing clients money on open market options. It says pension fund and annuity details are regularly delayed by at least four weeks, so clients miss out on competitive annuity rates as they are generally only guaranteed for two weeks from the date of quotation.
The bureau says annuity rates can change by 3 per cent overnight and are no longer available by the time providers provide information and fund payments so clients can buy the annuity.
Managing director Peter Quinton says: “The delays we are experiencing in getting hold of the information are getting longer and it is increasingly frustrating. Worse, these delays will ultimately cost our clients money.
“Given the general malaise in the financial community, you would think institutions would be pulling out all the stops to offer the consumer the best possible service. But the opposite is the case. Pension companies are letting their admin systems go to seed when their clients are looking to take benefits and this is leaving a very bad taste in the mouth.”
Royal London head of corporate communications Stephen Humphreys says: “Our target turn-round for an initial inquiry is seven days and as a general rule this is what we would aim to achieve.”