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Annuity sales slump 16% as FCA targets reform

Annuity sales dropped 16 per cent during 2013 as insurers reported an increase in the number of people deferring purchase.

The pensions industry is under pressure to reform after an FCA review revealed 80 per cent of consumers who do not shop around could have got a better deal if they did.

The regulator also concluded that people with pension funds worth less than £5,000 are poorly served by the market.

Analysis from the Association of British Insurers, published today, reveals 353,000 annuities worth £11.9bn were sold during 2013 – down from around 420,000 in 2012.

The trade body says the proportion of annuities bought on the open market remained static at 48 per cent last year, although this figure has increased significantly from the 31 per cent reported in 2003.

The proportion of internal annuities that were medically underwritten rose to 8 per cent in Q4 last year, compared with 4 per cent in 2012.

Hargreaves Lansdown head of pensions research Tom McPhail says: “The retirement income market appears to be shifting, with demand for annuities collapsing and surging interest in drawdown.

“The first wave of baby boomers has passed age 65 but even so, we would expect annuity sales to stay high yet they were lower in 2013 than in 2011, when fewer people were reaching their mid-sixties.

“There are lots of factors at work here, including the wider economic background, sentiment about future interest rates and actual retirement ages; low annuity rates in recent years compared to historic averages may have had an impact too.”

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  1. The headline stat needs some context given that the number of people reaching 65 (NRD / whatever) could equally have fallen 16% and therefore the number of annuity sales as a proportion of the market could still be the same.

    2012 might also have been a busy year for annuities (resulting in a drop in Q1 2013) – remember RDR anyone???

    Data like this can easily be skewed and linking it to the ‘value’ of annuities as a contract is therefore (imho) dangerous.

    What is interesting is that only 8% of internal annuities are underwritten (we pretty much underwrite 100%and virtually all benefit)…. and only 48% do OMOs (and therefore I suspect 52% have shot themselves in the foot).

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