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Industry call goes out to carry on selling Asps

GE Life is leading industry- wide calls for advisers to defy Government pressure and continue to advise all suitable clients to take out Asps.

Fears that the Government will spoil or scrap Asps were confirmed last week when Treasury Economic Secretary Ed Balls said changes will be included in the next pre-Budget report.

The Government says advisers are abusing Asps which it claims were designed solely for people with moral or religious objections to annuities.

But GE Life retirement product design manager Ray Chinn says advisers should not rule out Asps as clients with Asps can switch to an annuity if the Government confirms the industry’s worst fears.

Hargreaves Lansdown head of pensions research Tom McPhail warns that over-cautious advisers could even face misselling claims if they advise customers to take out an annuity and Asps are left intact.

Chinn says: “It is looking gloomy for Asps. But if the Government does change the rules, presuming that it does not take action retrospec- tively, all it can do is force clients with Asps to take out an annuity. If it does not change the rules and the client has already bought an annuity, they are stuck.”

Skandia pensions marketing director Nick Bladen says: “Firms that advise clients better suited to Asps to take out an annuity are going down a one-way street. This is a major issue for firms advising clients with Usps that are gearing up for Asps.”

Origen head of annuities Nick Flynn says: “We are beefing up the warnings but if Asps are abolished, people can always annuitise.”

Aegon Scottish Equitable pension development man-ager Rachel Vahey says: “If the adviser warns the client of the possible changes and they are comfortable with it, then Asps should still be made available. It is very unlikely that people will lose out if they have to swap to an annuity.”

Standard Life marketing technical manager Andy Tully says: “Our message to advisers is to continue as is as you cannot change your approach based on speculation.”

Winterthur Life pensions strategy manager Mike Morrison says. “How can the Government force people to buy annuities when their past perfor- mance is so bad?”

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