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Here is the News

Matt Trott, Head of Annuities, LV=

On the first Wednesday of every month, as regular as clockwork, an email lands in my Inbox from the LV= research team giving me a summary ofsurveys and opinion polls relevant to the financial services and insurance market.

These are the sort that often turn up after the main features in the TV news bulletins along the lines of ’A survey published today shows that eight out of ten cats say their owners prefer…’ What struck me about the brief that I got earlier this month was the number of surveys that provide important messages for us as pension providers and intermediaries.

So, cue the dramatic music and the sonorous chimes of Big Ben – ’Here is the News’…

Biggest ever increase in number of over 65s still working

According to an ONS survey, the number of people working beyond age 65 increased by 40,000 in Q2, 2010 – the biggest increase since they started measuring 18 years ago.

This reinforces the message, if reinforcement was necessary, of the importance of financial advice for those at or approaching retirement, and the danger of assuming that everyone over 65 is retired. It’s also a reminder of the importance of flexible products that can help people with their income planning as they move into and through retirement.

UK the fattest country in Europe – official

A report published by the OECD reveals that the UK is the most overweight country in Europe with two thirds of men overweight and a quarter officially obese.

Ostensibly there’s little positive about this story – overweight people are more likely to develop diabetes and cardiovascular diseases and can find themselves paying higher premiums for life insurance products.

A sliver of a silver lining however is that many of the diseases they are prone to are among the 1400 or so medical conditions and lifestyle choices that can qualify for an enhanced annuity rate.

Typically, a diabetic smoker can receive around 20-25% more a year from an enhanced annuity (compared to a standard annuity), every year for the rest of their retirement. Industry figures indicate whilst around 60% of retirees could qualify for enhanced rates, only a small proportion of annuities sold are on an enhanced basis. Surely, a great and often missed opportunity for advisers to demonstrate the true value of advice?

’Internet essential’ say consumers

According to a survey published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the internet is now deemed an essential commodity, almost as important to consumers as earning a living.

Additionally, the survey reveals that half of the over 55s have broadband. It’s key that advisers and providers review their business models and online propositions to adapt to the growing demand for online information and comparison services. Customers will be buying annuities online in the future. But with the range of options and changing needs throughout retirement – which for many will last 30 years – advisers have a key role to play in helping people make informed decisions in their latter years.

And finally… 65 years young

Actually, this isn’t a survey – just a personal observation. There have been a series of 65th anniversaries this year recognising the end of the Second World War. This means that next year will be the 65th anniversary of the start of the post war baby boom. Despite the ongoing 75 or 77 debate, 65 is still the default retirement age for many so it’s very possible that we could see a sudden up-tick in those looking for retirement planning advice in the next twelve months. This may well be an ideal opportunity for advisers to review their client databases – next year could be busy

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