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Life firms blast Lawson over publishing annuity rates

Life companies have hit back at Standard Life head of pensions policy John Lawson, saying that his call for all annuity providers to publish their rates is “nonsense”.

Scottish Life, Skandia and St James’s Place claim that Lawson is missing the point after he named 11 firms which are still open to new personal pension or stakeholder business that do not publish their annuity rates on the FSA’s comparative tables.

St James’s Place divisional director (pensions) Ian Price says St James’s Place does not provide its own annuities and has a tie-up with Prudential.

He says: “We fundamentally agree with the open market option which is why when we give customers a Prudential quote we also say to them that they can use their Omo. Putting more information out to consumers can just make it confusing for them.”

Skandia says it has an arrangement with Legal & Gen-eral. Head of pensions marketing Nick Bladen says: “We cannot quote annuity rates because we do not have an annuity product. We have a link with Legal & General which is the default open market option.”

Scottish Life says that while the firm does provide annuities, they are not marketed to the wider market.

Head of communications Alasdair Buchanan says: “They can compare the quote we give them to the rates listed on the FSA comparative tables. If you are not selling this business, then it is a bit of a nonsense.”

Scottish Widows head of pension market development Ian Naismith says: “From a practical viewpoint, it just would not work and we are not looking for more regulation.”

Hargreaves Lansdown head of pensions policy Tom McPhail says: “The real issue is that life companies should not be allowed to offer their own annuity rates as part of the retirement package.”

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