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Experts warn ABI annuity reform plans don’t go far enough

Pension experts have warned that providers could still push savers towards a tied annuities salesforce under reform proposals outlined by the Association of British Insurers this week.

The ABI says its members will be required to ensure that every customer has a conversation with their provider or an impartial advice or guidance service about their retirement options.

In addition, providers will be required to proactively offer all customers a comparison of annuity quotes so that they can see the range of options available to them.

Finally, they will need to ensure customers provide health and lifestyle information, which can then be used consistently by all providers as they shop around.

The new standards will be implemented over the next 18 months.

ABI director general Otto Thoresen says: “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.

“The new measures set out a minimum industry standard for savers and further build on the compulsory Retirement Choices Code and annuity window introduced last year by the ABI and its members.”

Annuity Direct chairman Alan Higham says: “This still leaves it open for providers to push people to a tied salesforce and that falls well short of the standards we should be aiming for. We need quality standards to protect customers from detriment.”

Independent pensions consultant Ros Altmann adds: “Offering people a conversation with an in-house team won’t be enough unless there are proper protections in place.”

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