Friends will pay out after annuity error

Friends Life has agreed to pay an extra £575 a year to an annuitant after an adviser complained that the firm contacted his client directly and sold them an annuity lower than they could have gained from shopping around.

In April, Friends Provident sent a letter to a client of Ward House principal Michael Ward telling them of an enhanced annuity option. After the client failed to qualify for the enhanced rate, they bought a standard annuity with Friends.

Ward contacted Friends to tell them the client could have got a further £575.40 a year through the Omo. Friends agreed to increase the client’s pension by £575.40 and pay Ward the commission his firm would have received.

Ward says: “It is not right that life companies contact clients directly and offer them deals like this because the client does not understand and firm’s are taking advantage of that.”

A Friends Life spokesman says: “This was an error as our normal practice is to send information to the adviser at the same time as the customer.”